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Friday Fast: For Storms in Africa

Long time followers of this blog will remember our Friday Fast posts. Give up your lunch money on Friday and send it to someone who needs it more.

This week’s Friday Fast is dedicated to the Horn of Africa where drought conditions have left the residents vulnerable to famine.

The United States has been following developments in the Horn of Africa for months.  According to Ertharin Cousin, US representative to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture:

We now know there are more than 11.5 million people — primarily in Ethiopia, Kenya, and especially Somalia — in need of emergency assistance.

Given the rapidly evolving humanitarian emergency in the region, I was encouraged to see so many countries convene so quickly in Rome for the ministerial-level meeting. There is no time to lose — and meetings such as these must continue to bring the world’s attention to the situation in the Horn.

Here at the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome, we have been working practically around the clock to support the broader U.S. and global response to the present crisis; but perhaps more importantly, we have also been working with our partners over the past months to prepare for a drought that we knew was coming. With U.S. Government support, food was pre-positioned in the area, saving over 4 million lives that otherwise would have been at risk.

CNN reports:

 Twelve million people are facing a hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa, and they are in desperate need of help.

The United Nations declared a famine in parts of southern Somalia, calling for a widespread international response to end the suffering.

Thousands of Somalis have been fleeing the country each week in search of food, water and shelter — many of them walking for days in the sweltering sun toward refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Nearly half a million children are at risk of dying from malnutrition and disease.

Relief organizations are calling on the international community to join together to end the crisis, and they’re working to gain entrance into areas with limited humanitarian access.

There are ways you can help.

UNICEF is asking for $31.8 million over the next three months for relief efforts. The money will help provide therapeutic treatment for women and children with severe malnutrition, access to clean drinking water and vaccinations to prevent deadly diseases like measles and polio.

“The earlier we act, the more children we can save. Americans are a generous people, and a little goes a long way — just $10 can feed a child for 10 days,” said Caryl Stern, president of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

$10 bucks.  It sounds like a tiny amount but $10 can go a long way in the hands of organizations that are experienced in handling these kinds of emergencies.  $10 can buy high energy biscuits, clean drinking water, and medical assistance.  I’m a big fan of the cell phone donation method because you can’t get away from it.  Before the cell phone donation, I used to read appeals for donations and think, “Wow, that’s really bad.  I feel for those people.  I want to do something, right after I do XYZ” and then I would forget to call or complete the form.  With the cell phone, all you have to do is type the code to the number and voile!, your lunch money is added to your phone bill.  It’s quick, it’s easy and if you like the feeling of empowerment you get from helping others, you can give up another meal and try a different cell phone donation tomorrow.

But today, I’m only asking you to give up one lunch.  Don’t buy that stuffed burrito and iced tea, decline the 5 Guys burger with The Works and the insane amount of french fries.  Skip the weekly lunch with your work colleagues at the Thai restaurant.  Even we unemployed can get in on the act.  It hits closer to home with us and, really, $10 is not a lot of money.

Give your lunch money to the Horn of Africa.

The CNN article has a couple cell phone donation suggestions:

The United Nations World Food Programme has plans to airlift high energy biscuits and highly nutritious supplementary foods for children and pregnant or nursing mothers into southern Somalia.

Donations can be made from various countries online or via text. To donate $10 from the United States, text “AID” to 27722; to donate $5 from Canada, text “RELIEF” to 45678; to donate £3 from the United Kingdom text “AID” to 70303.

World Vision is working to regain safe humanitarian access in south central Somalia where millions of children are in urgent need of food and assistance.

The organization continues to implement programs in Somaliland and affected areas in Puntland. For families fleeing the drought, World Vision is providing nutrition supplements to malnourished children and improving healthcare and sanitation.

To donate to relief efforts from the United States, visit the website, call 1-888-56-CHILD or text “4AFRICA” to 20222 to donate $10.

For those of you who have a little more money to spend, consider donating to:

International Committee of the Red Cross

OxFam

Mercy Corps

International Rescue Committee 

Save the Children

If you have any other suggestions, add them in the comments.

And if you’re really dedicated, don’t forget your fellow Americans who are visiting food banks in increasing numbers during The Lesser Depression.  Feeding America is my major donation site.  When combined with other $25 donations, that money goes a long way towards feeding families who run out of money before the end of the month. If you have the means, consider a monthly automatic donation.

Be like a tiny drop of rain and storm over Africa:

6 Responses

  1. I did it. $10 to the UN World Food Program to provide high energy biscuits.

    Go, Conflucians, Go!

  2. Good way to start a Friday. I donated too, and also remembered that I had money on my Kiva account, so I made a few loans.

  3. Done.

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