Groups donate cash for Somali drought

Somali student groups around the city raised $28,000 for drought relief.

Emily Banks

Students across the Twin Cities raised about $28,000 to help people in drought-ridden areas of Somalia, and today they will hand over the check to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Laura Olson, a representative from the Red Cross, will be in Minneapolis to accept the donation from local Somalian student groups at a ceremony at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

Shukri Warsame, a University sociology junior, said the money is a relief effort for a drought in Somalia.

“It’s the worst (drought) in 40 years, that’s why we took the initiative as students to do the fundraiser,” she said.

The Somali Student Association and Somalian groups at other Twin Cities colleges, including St. Mary’s University, raised the money through charging admission to an event held in March. Between 300 and 400 people attended, Warsame said.

The event included the showing of a documentary about Somalian families, and attendees paid admission and made pledges, said Jamal Adam, the effort’s lead organizer and graduate student at St. Mary’s University.

“When we heard the news about families in Somalia, students at MCTC, the ‘U’ and other students wanted to contribute to help families in Somalia,” Adam said.

He said the students wanted to give something back to their community and help “alleviate the humanitarian crisis that resulted from the famine and drought.”

“In parts of Somalia, people, especially children, are dying because of malnutrition and starvation,” he said.

Warsame said the students researched relief efforts and found that the International Committee of the Red Cross works in parts of Somalia where the droughts are most severe. She said they decided to use the organization as a “vehicle to get the money to the people who need it the most.”

Josh Kittner, an associate in development communications at the American Red Cross, said the organization “is the way neighbors help neighbors in need, whether it’s around the corner or around the world.”

“This is a very generous donation and we’re very thankful for it,” he said.

The groups will continue accepting donations and plan to hold another fundraiser concert in May.

“It was a very thoughtful gift,” Kittner said. “We’re extremely happy that we’re chosen for the conduit for your compassion.”

Warsame said the drought is ongoing.

“The more money we collect, the more we hope to send,” she said.

Today’s event will be at 11 a.m. in Room L3100 at Minneapolis Community and Technical College off Hennepin Avenue.