Somalian Sorrows

As many of you fellow adventurers know, I like to write on a variety of topics.

Often they will be about expat issues, or some aspect about living overseas. Other times they will be about human nature, personal challenges, self-improvement. Or perhaps about something going on in this global world we call home.

Sometimes, as is the case with today’s subject, they fall into all three categories.

For decades, the American United Negro College Fund’s pithy slogan has been ‘a mind is a terrible thing to waste’. To paraphrase slightly, I happen to believe that a conscience is a terrible thing to to waste as well.

As with most people, I’ve done my fair share of volunteering and fund-raising for various charities and organizations over the years. And like most people, the causes I’ve personally and directly supported have tended to shift with time, often mirroring the stages I’ve been in my life.

In my late teens and early twenties, I gravitated toward political issues. In my late twenties and thirties, with younger children, I focused more on community, school and church. With time, my attention and reach have become more global in nature. Not all that surprising since I’ve worked in the international sphere for much of my career, and now live abroad.

As this blog has grown and my writing career has taken off, I’ve come to the realization that I personally feel compelled to periodically use my time, education, skills and medium to shine the light on major issues affecting fellow world citizens. I knew I was on the right track when I recently created a new blog category simply called ‘Doing What I Can to Help’.

To that end, I decided that once a month I’ll write about some topic that calls out to our own humanity, appeals to our very conscience.

At first it was about human trafficking, and then about bone marrow registryterminal illness and organ donation, and making wishes come true. Most recently it was the plight of refugees worldwide.

Today it’s the terrible starvation in Somalia.

Now I know that horrible droughts, floods, earthquakes and tornadoes wreak havoc on many parts of the world. They interrupt or end lives, displace people, ruin crops and livestock and threaten food supplies.

Add political strife, war and violence to the mix and it all worsens.

But Somalia is a category all its own. According the the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Somalia is now considered ‘ the worst humanitarian disaster of the year’.

In this article shared by the USA for UNHCR organization, ‘relentless violence inside Somalia compounded by the worst drought in sixty years has forced more than 25% of Somalia’s 7.5 million people to flee their homes’:

  • Kenya and Ethiopia have received 135,000 Somalis this year; 54,000 in June alone;
  • 50% of arriving Somali children are exhausted and seriously malnurished (you can imagine how bad it must be for those too weak to leave);
  • Mortality rates are alarmingly high, with many dying within hours of arriving in refugee camps;

and then this:

  • Systems for meeting the food and health needs are close to buckling.


UNHCR representatives point out that 2011 has already been an absolutely brutal year for manmade and natural disasters, so to label Somalia ‘the worst’ is saying something.

If you have the opportunity and means to contribute, I hope you’ll consider doing so. If you’d prefer to donate to a different charity or even to an entirely different cause, that’s great, too.

The way I look at it, if you’d rather give time and/or money to help orphans or cancer research or victims of domestic abuse or endangered wildlife or whatever else, please do so. It’s all good. It all helps.

All I’m asking is that you find a need and help address it. Do what you can to help. Your conscience will greatly appreciate it.

[Image credit: UNHCR/R. Gangale]



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