Friday, August 26, 2011

Feeding famine: "This could be their home for a long time"

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Famine has afflicted the world at various times throughout recorded history, including the successive generations of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Biblical book of Genesis. In modern day Somalia, however, there is no Joseph, ordained by God to save his people. Instead, the global community is called to act as the children of Israel and Ishmael.

Displaced Somalis pour daily into the Dadaab refugee camp – the world's largest – across the border in neighboring Kenya, fleeing two years of drought – East Africa's worst in 60 years – rising food prices, and armed conflict in food producing areas. Most immediately, they flee famine with its attendant malnutrition, starvation, epidemics, and mortality. 

Eighty percent of those arriving at Dadaab are women and children. Their men are fighting, dead, tending herds, or giving their families all of their money to travel, on foot, across the border. In camps built to house 90,000 people, more than 400,000 now live in a space one third the size of Minneapolis. 

Their hope lies primarily in the Somali Diaspora.   

Minneapolis-St. Paul has become the de facto capital of Somalia in North America. This community of immigrants has taken up the frontline fight against famine in Somalia and other countries in the Horn of Africa. The American Refugee Committee, and its Neighbors for Nations–Uniting Communities to Help Somalia, are working with Minnesota's Somali community to raise money, buy food, and send it to the Horn of Africa.

The sons of Ishmael cannot do it by themselves. They need all of the children of Israel. Every financial gift of any size is generous and will save lives and provide relief in Somalia within days. There is no time to debate who, or what, is right or wrong.

From Minneapolis City Councilmember Gary Schiff:
Every single day I meet people in Minneapolis who are preparing for a trip to the Dadaab refugee camp or to Somalia to help with famine relief efforts. Abdi Phenomenal Farah is a student from Augsburg College who is leaving this week. Abdi is a spoken word artist, and he will have much more to say when he returns. Please watch this link of his amazing art and meet one of the upcoming leaders of our city.

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