How Western New Yorkers are helping to save lives in Somalia.
To fully understand the reality of this crisis, see The Faces of Famine post and related article.
Olive Branch show interview with Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali and first lady Dr. Hodan Isse – how a WNY professor became a head of state; his wife’s reaction and thoughts.
Dear fellow Western New Yorker,
The Talmud teaches that if you save one life it is as if you are saving the whole world. We need to do what we can to save much more than just one life.
For the foreseeable future, helping with the crisis in Somalia is how I have decided to focus my efforts to build bridges in Western New York with our Muslim friends and neighbors.
This includes reaching out locally to faith communities, humanitarian organizations, and those with political influence, imploring all who are in a position to help to do so.
Please let me know if you are able and willing to help me in this effort, even in the smallest way.
Dr. Rob Stall
Participant, Building Bridges in WNY
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: The New York Times
Date: Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 8:07 AM
Subject: From The New York Times Newsroom: The Story Behind the Story
The New York Times | THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY : Exclusively for Times Subscribers
The Faces of Famine
BY Tyler Hicks
A malnourished child at Banadir Hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia. More than 500,000 Somali children are verging on starvation.
Photo by Tyler Hicks
Famine is sweeping across southern Somalia and sending a stream of desperate people into Mogadishu. Tens of thousands of children are said to be dying there, and there’s not enough help to meet the demand for food and medical care. The Shabab, the Islamic militant group with ties to Al-Qaeda, has made delivery of aid to remote areas, and even to the capital Mogadishu, not only difficult but also unreasonably slow, further reinforcing the crisis.
I was recently on assignment to photograph the crisis in Mogadishu. Just a few miles from where our plane landed I was taken to a refugee camp where hundreds of new arrivals, those who walked there with their belongings – and children – on their backs, waited for help and a place to settle. The sight of foreigners, and their hope that help had arrived, created a steady appeal for help. A bundle under a woman’s arm revealed an emaciated child, then another in the same state carried by someone else. I motioned to my camera in an attempt to show I was with the news media and couldn’t help them with what they needed: food, clean water, medicine, mosquito nets, shelter.
The worst cases were at the crowded hospital. That’s where I found the hardest hit, mostly children, some unable to walk or even sit up, others vomiting and all suffering from dysentery. In the hallway every available surface was used for another sick child. I’ve seen bad conditions in hospitals, but this was one of the worst. Swarms of flies infested the mouths and eyes of children too weak to move. Their parents spent the day swatting the flies away from them and doing whatever else they could to keep them alive. I photographed a father carrying his lifeless daughter, wrapped in cloth, out of the hospital for burial.
Mogadishu is unsafe for foreigners, and journalists rely on local fixers and security to help do our job. Time on the street is very limited, and you’re never left in one place for long before moving. This means you’re forced to work quickly, even inside the hospital. I found this frustrating, but I reminded myself to trust our guides and allow them to make those decisions.
In early August, The New York Times ran a front-page photograph of a child who was reduced to the frail framework of a starved body. The image showed the child in a fetal position, arms wrapped around the head, almost in a protective gesture. I could see that this image, however disturbing to view, would give proof of how desperate the situation had become.
I enthusiastically support the image chosen for Page 1. The public reaction was overwhelmingly positive, and a reminder of the impact The Times can generate – not only among our readers, but also among other news media organizations and humanitarian aid groups. This is an example of the raw, unfiltered definition of news photography. It doesn’t happen every day, and it might not come your way in the course of a year. But sometimes you land on a story, a cause, something that has meaning to you, and the resulting photographs have an impact. They are seen and spur reaction. In a digital age, that’s when you’re reminded of the impact that a still, motionless photograph can have.
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September 21, 2011
Dr. Rob Stall
Building Bridges in WNY
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to submit my presentation about Somalia and the need for aid and training.
As you know, as you turn on the news these days, and the statistics of famine-stricken Somalia are staggering and the images sobering. An estimated 3.2 million people are on the brink of starvation, with 390,000 of them being children. That number is expected to double in the next 12 months.
But even more saddening than the statistics are the stories that so many of the Somalian people share—mothers traveling for weeks with children on their backs and infants in their arms, traversing through drought-stricken dusty roads in search of not just a better life, but a life-saving meal for their family. Many of those who make it to the overcrowded camps in Mogadishu have had to do the unthinkable—leave a dying child behind in hopes of saving their other children who still have a fighting chance.
Women in Action Against Malnutrition (WAANO)
Fortunately, some relief organizations are helping to meet the needs of these refugees who continue to pour into Mogadishu. One such organization is Women in Action Against Malnutrition (WAANO). Founded in June 2010 by Somalian-born Udbi Omar Wallin. WAANO is a non-profit relief and development organization dedicated to empowering local communities of the Banadir region of Somalia to reduce the occurrence of malnutrition and to improve the overall health and well being of its people. However, much more aid is desperately needed. In the past 2 months alone, over 100,000 people have arrived in these crowded camps.
Women in Action Against Malnutrition (WAANO) recently distributed cereal, dates, and hygiene items
to 70 families in Hamarweyne, one of the largest internally displaced camps.
While the needs are great throughout all of Somalia, WAANO is focusing on meeting the needs of internally displaced people near Mogadishu by providing temporary Feeding Centers which are staffed with local volunteers and stocked with food supplies provided by various individuals and organizations. My experience in humanitarian works in Somalia includes establishing Feeding Centers in the villages of Sabid and Anole, teaching widows about farming techniques such as how to grow moringa trees for nutritional supplements, and tend a vegetable gardens to create income generation for widows and their children.
With a head for administration and a heart for the Somalian people, I am thinking beyond just providing the next meal. The plan is to educate Somalians about nutrition and basic hygiene, something we have done for the past six years. The need for Feeding Centers predates the current famine since the country has been at war for 20 years and has experienced chronic malnutrition. Even prior to the recent crisis, people have been lacking in education about nutrition and well-balanced meals.
I believe that if one person can change a life, an organization working with others can help transform an entire community. For that reason, WAANO is seeking partnerships with international organizations that are working to alleviate hunger and malnutrition. This is the underlying reason I am submitting this application to help establish holistic community education programs on nutrition, healthy eating habits, and essential sanitation/hygiene in Somalia.
I sincerely hope that Action Against Hunger would consider and support WAANO in this undertaking.