Local, News, Top Stories — February 21, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Somali famine continues to escalate


ST. CLOUD, Minn. – Omar Omar, an SCSU student, works two jobs in order to send money to his family in Somalia. He says his relatives struggle with the famine.“I got relatives from my moms side over there in Kenya and Somalia,” Omar said. “It’s a really sad moment. Right now they’re trying to get a lot of aid coming in but it’s not helping everybody.”

Last year the United Nations declared some parts of Somalia to be affected by a famine. They predicted the famine would spread and be felt throughout 2012. They were right because the drought is escalating the famine.

When asked about the effectiveness of the support Somalia receives Omar says, “They’re not even getting into Somalia they’re just helping the camps. There’s people that are still trying to walk to the camps.”

The difference between this food drive compared to many others is it actually helps people outside the refugee camps.

“I thought it was a really great experience helping the kids that were not in the refugees yet, is what we were actually doing. They don’t have food because they’re not in the refugee camps and they’re starving kids,” Kristen Daniels, an SCSU student, said.

Volunteers work in two-hour shifts to package food.

Minnesotans work together to bring Somali people help. Daniels traveled to her hometown over the weekend to package food for Somalians waiting to get into refugee camps.

Omar notes that just because you are in the refugee camps does not mean you are being properly fed. He says you still might have to go without food.

“You have to get in line and go through a whole process just to get some food and they won’t even hold them for more than a week probably,” Omar said.

Twenty-eight churches combined with five businesses to put their efforts together and host Food for Kidz in Willmar, Minn. Daniels, a long with her older sister and mother, came together as a family to help starving families across the world.

The atmosphere at the Food for Kids event was inspiring and the enthusiasm was contagious. A Somali man went around to each table teaching phrases in the Somalian language: bulsha means community, da-dal means work hard, esu imatin wanagsan means good to be together, kulan wanagsan also means good to be together and shako feean means good work.

There were about a thousand volunteers who broke up into groups of ten to package food boxes. A lot of the groups cheered out the Somalian phrases once a box was finished being packed. Daniels’s groups packaged about twenty boxes.

Food for Kidz aimed to achieve their goal to package 285,000 boxes. Fortunately, Mike McDevitt who headed the food drive says they exceeded their goal with 310,000 boxes. One box feeds for seven months. Daniels says it’s something to think about and volunteering helps to learn not to take things for granted.

“My family doesn’t live in Somalia anymore… but I have other friends that’s affected by it,” Nasra Ali, an SCSU student, said. “They feel like the world abandoned them.”

If you’d like more information about Food for Kidz visit their web-site. St. Cloud State University is hosting Somali night on March 31 which is a great place to find out first-hand more about the famine.

“They haven’t had a drought this bad for awhile. Since before the civil war that we had,” Omar said.

The bags contain soy for protein, powdered vitamins and vegetables and rice.

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