Chicagoans send money to address Somalia famine

August 31, 2011

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Millions of people in the East African nation of Somalia are suffering from a famine caused by war, an ongoing insurgency and drought. The steady stream of images of starving, emaciated Somali children is now compelling some Chicagoans to act.

Pastor Byron Brazier, leader of a church in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood, is one of them. He’s getting his congregation to collect money for famine relief.

“It is a part of our church mission to provide comfort and aid – and not just to the ones who live in our neighborhoods,” Brazier said. “As I also looked at what was also going on in Somalia, I felt the call to add the Apostolic Church of God to the list of those who are going to be active contributors.”

Brazier said the church this week raised $25,000 for UNICEF, an organization set up by the United Nations to promote children’s health and well-being.

And, there’s likely to be more mobilization underway in Chicago, too. Jesse Jackson Sr. said his Rainbow PUSH Coalition may send a delegation to Somalia that would include volunteer doctors.

The United Nations says the famine relief effort needs billions of dollars.

Alie Kabba, head of the Organization of African Unity in Chicago, said the city has a Somali population of about 15,000—a figure that’s grown in recent years because of political instability in the East African country.

“We must work with the African Union to find a better long-term, durable solution to the problem in Somalia,” Kabba said. “But until then let us support the effort here to contribute … while we’re here in the comfort of Chicago.”

Relief effort organizers will hold a rally Saturday at the Rainbow PUSH headquarters on Chicago’s South Side.