A slogan attracts Mogadishu residents to help drought victims
Feeding camps aren't taking care of the refugees by themselves.
July 22, 2011 11:43 am EDT
Disaster And Accident, Drought, Politics, Migration
by Mohamed Shiil
Special to All Headline News
Newly arrived refugees fleeing drought and danger from many regions of Somalia have flooded the streets of Mogadishu and any available inch of space -- abandoned cinema houses, playgrounds, parks -- have become shelters for internally displaced families, or IDPs.
Faduma Abdi, a newly arrived IDP from Bakool and a mother of three children, lives in a shanty made of sticks and clothes in the compound of a former widescreen cinema known as Cinema Centrale in the Hamar-Weyne district.
Abdi left a remote village in the Bakool region after she lost all of her herds of goats and cattle that she had inherited from her husband after the severe drought hit her settlement and its neighborhoods.
“My husband died three years ago. He left us few goats and cattle but we lost all of it. I was empty-handed and one of my children, the fourth one, a boy, died from malnutrition. Then I decided on moving into Mogadishu,“ she said.
After all that has happened to her, Abdi says, “We did not expect such a great hand and support offered to us before the world community and other foreign people.” She extols how Mogadishu residents have answered the call for helping those affected by the drought.
Mogadishans are responding to a slogan that has become the city's anthem in recent days: “Whatever happens to your brother could happen even to you.“ Heard from clerics, community elders, community workers and politicians, it's the main theme in Mogadishu calling for people to support the IDPs.
Abdi and her children were among 300 IDP families who arrived in Mogadishu in May and were seen holding on in an open space of the Somali Youth League statue park in Mogadishu, not far from the presidential palace.
“We were lucky. Lawmakers, civil society groups, telecommunication companies and Hamar-Weyne residents organized us emergency relief including food, blankets, mattresses and temporary shelter inside a former orientation center,” she said.
Residents in Mogadishu use many ways to organize and gather donations for drought victims. Clerics often deliver speeches at the end of prayer time calling for worshippers to give whatever they can. Donations have ranged from 1,000 Somali Shillings to 100,000 Somali Shillings (US$61).
Some IDPs depend on feeding centers where they get their lunch rations of rice cooked with soup as others receive sorghum with milk. Those distributing the food, mainly from local community-based organizations, show concern when those waiting for food refuse to wait in line. “That obliges us to call security forces to enforce the rule,“ said Saida Ali at the Hamar jajab feeding camp.
The feeding camps are located around most of Mogadishu. The lives of the IDPs seem to be recovering a little. But the feeding camps aren't taking care of the refugees by themselves. Many mornings, Mogadishu residents collect cooked pancakes from each house and deliver them to the IDP camps for breakfast.
“We go in front of every house in the morning and every family contributes two or three pieces of pancakes. When we arrive at the center we have bags full of pancakes...we prepare large barrels full of soup and we distribute among the IDP camps,” said Ali.
In the last few days, university students, lawmakers, doctors, teachers and high school students have set up their own committees to arrange and collect donations.
What the Mogadishu residents are doing for the drought victims reflects their true spirit and willingness to help others, the essence of “Whatever happens to your brother could happen even to you.“
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