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article imageWalk for Somalia Team Meets the Public at Toronto City Hall Special

By Farid Abdulhamid     Oct 3, 2011 in World
Toronto - The Walk for Somalia team that recently concluded an eight-day, 400-kilomtre walk from Toronto to Ottawa passing through 20 communities held a memorable meet and greet session at City Hall in a colorful event attended by community members and artists.
Team members recounted their experiences through personal accounts while a video and photo presentation highlighted the significance of the walk that was meant to raise funds for the victims of the Somali famine as well as rally the Canadian public to support this important cause.
The UN has declared the unfolding humanitarian disaster in Somalia “the world’s worst crisis” as the devastating famine has already claimed the lives of 30,000 children while 750,000 people are on brink of starvation in the coming months if the international community does not move fast to curtail the effects of the famine.
Abdiqani Mohamed, a walk for Somalia organizer, thanked all the 24 team members who took part in the historic trek and all others who supported this initiative.
“The walk went according to plan. This initiative was very successful and we plan to make it an ongoing event” said Abdiqani.
Community members chat with walkers at the Toronto City Hall. From left are Somali divas Fadumo Nakr...
Community members chat with walkers at the Toronto City Hall. From left are Somali divas Fadumo Nakruma and Batullo, Abdifatah Warsame, Walk for Somalia team member and Somali diva, Khadija Daleys (background).
Photo: Ige Egal
Walk for Somalia team members conduct a video presentation at the Toronto City Hall on the eight-day...
Walk for Somalia team members conduct a video presentation at the Toronto City Hall on the eight-day, Toronto-Ottawa walk.
Photo: Ige Egal
Standing front  is Wangari Muriuki  a TDSB consultant at the Walk for Somalia meet and greet session...
Standing front, is Wangari Muriuki, a TDSB consultant at the Walk for Somalia meet and greet session held at the Toronto City Hall.
Photo: Ige Egal
The Walk for Somalia is an initiative that began in 2009 in response to the humanitarian crisis in the Afgoi-Mogadishu corridor. The ongoing crisis in the Horn of Africa has prompted organizers to act again, this time, under a campaign that has seen young activists hit the long road to Ottawa to raise public awareness and funds as well as call upon the Canadian government to extend the matching period for donations beyond the elapsed September 16th deadline.
At the conclusion of the walk, team members received a warm reception from the Somali-Canadian community in Ottawa and later held a press conference at Parliament Hill where they were joined by dignitaries including politicians and ambassadors.
Ige Eqal, the media liaison for the heroic team, outlined the four main goals of Walk for Somalia.
1. Public Education: "To raise awareness not only on the ongoing humanitarian crisis but the crisis in Somalia in general. The idea is to get people to engage Somalia at personal level but also change perceptions on Somali-Canadians and especially on the youth. With media reports focusing on 20 dead young Somali-Canadians in Edmonton, there is need to bring forth the much bigger story in the community; that of youth taking leadership roles to bring change. There is need to also talk about the resilience of the Somali nation whose people have endured all forms of adversity in the last 20 years but still move on" said Ige.
2. Political goal: "Get the Canadian Federal government to extend the matching period. The Walk for Somalia team thanks the Canadian government for its support so far but respectfully says that the Somali crisis is monumental and hence an extended matching period would help expand relief efforts."
3. Monetary Goal: Ige said the team's target is "to raise a minimum of $ 1 million. This may seem daunting but the reality on the ground is that UN estimates call for at least $ 2.5 billion of aid in the immediate future to address the crisis. So far, only $ 1.6 billion has been raised, which falls way short of expected targets. In this context, $1 million looks marginal. Although the Walk did not reach that target, organizers feel that the capacity to raise that amount exists and hence efforts should be stepped up to achieve this goal".
4. Delivery of Aid: Ige noted that the Canadian government and general public should look at the vast potential of using the Walk for Somalia "as an example of effective delivery of aid. The youth have not only demonstrated their capacity by showing exceptional leadership but know precisely how to do it as they have the cultural and linguistic access that aid agencies lack. The youth know the people on the ground and understand the reality in Somalia better than others attempting to deliver aid there. The Walk for Somalia team is still working on accomplishing all its goals and fully understands that a lot of work still lies ahead."
MPP Bob Chiarelli welcomes the Walk for Somalia team at the Bayshore Park in Ottawa.
MPP Bob Chiarelli welcomes the Walk for Somalia team at the Bayshore Park in Ottawa.
Photo: Ige Egal
NDP foreign critic Paul Dewar joins members of the Walk for Somalia team at the Parliament Hill Pres...
NDP foreign critic Paul Dewar joins members of the Walk for Somalia team at the Parliament Hill Press Gallery.
Photo: Ige Egal
Walk for Somalia team members at Parliament Hill.
Walk for Somalia team members at Parliament Hill.
Photo: Ige Egal
Abdifatah Warsame, the co-ordinator of the Centre for Youth Development and Mentoring Services (CYDMS) who was joined by his entire family for the walk to Ottawa, said that some people questioned why he would take his young family of very little kids including an infant on a grueling eight-day walk to the Canadian capital.
“Me and my wife took the initiative to walk with the youths after reading an article in a British newspaper narrating the gruesome and unfortunate story of a Somali mom, Mariam Ibrahim, whose infant boy, Osman died of starvation. The mom hid the body of her dead infant and used it as a ration to feed her surviving infant girl, Khadija” said Abdifatah.
“Living a comfortable life with my family in Mississauga where we have access to everything we need, we decided we had a moral obligation to do something. We had no choice but join Shadya and group on the walk. Nothing can compare to the suffering of a mom walking to Dadaab camp carrying several infants with her” said Abdifatah in reference to Mariam Ibrahim and the many other Somali mothers in similar position.
Awil, a father in attendance, said that the youth clearly demonstrated their “ability to forge the kind of unity Somalia has been craving for”.
Dr. Cadigia, a prominent politician who has been very supportive of the youth, thanked the team for their wonderful efforts saying that “United we stand, divided we fall, is the lesson the youth gave us”.
Walk for Somalia team members at Parliament Hill.
Walk for Somalia team members at Parliament Hill.
Photo: Ige Egal
Sambuza Village in Ottawa hosts Walk for Somalia team during a lunch reception.
Sambuza Village in Ottawa hosts Walk for Somalia team during a lunch reception.
Photo: Ige Egal
It was time for the Somali divas in the house to give their take on events. Fadumo Nakruma, a celebrated Somali artist said:
“Thank you all, we appreciate what you have done. You are the leaders of tomorrow. You gave us hope. You brought us back to the Somali fold. Our hope is that when the youth rise up, our country will be back. You are the only hope we have. Long live the youth” said Nakruma as she sang Somali nationalist songs. Khadija Daleys and Batullo, the two other divas in attendance joined in the singing as event participants cheered on.
On her part, Khadija Daleys said she was elated with the success of the youth.
“I had longed to walk with you but unfortunately, I had a bad leg. Be the ones who free the country. Get us out of 20 years of mayhem” said Daleys as she broke into singing patriotic songs while joined by fellow artists, Nakruma, Batullo and Hodan.
Batullo, who has just arrived from a two-week visit in Mogadishu, said that flights carrying aid and humanitarian relief supplies are landing in Mogadishu today because “20 years of civil war means that our country can’t feed its people who are struggling with a famine while its children are dying on the road side. Clannism has destroyed us. It has forced us into exile and created a refugee crisis. The people are not the problem but manipulative elites. We have a dream in young people who were born or raised here. Go back and help rebuild the Somali nation.”
Batullo heaped praise on the youth:
“Your sacrifices (walk to Ottawa), is a historic moment that will go down in the annals of Somali history. Thank you for taking up this important cause. We say no more to clan divisions and manipulations. We have lost our statehood and children. We as Somali mothers thank you. We want you to keep going. Somalia needs you. Go back home to help rebuild” said Batullo.
In a festive mood, the much-loved, much-celebrated Somalia divas broke into another round of singing Somali nationalist songs as participants joined in the singing.
The 400 Kilometre route covered by the Walk for Somalia team spanning 20 cities and towns during the...
The 400 Kilometre route covered by the Walk for Somalia team spanning 20 cities and towns during their September 19-26 walk from Toronto to Ottawa.
Image: Google/Walk for Somalia
For more information, please visit:
www.walkforsomalia.ca
Walk for Somalia on Facebook
http://www.facebook.com/WalkForSomalia
Walk for Somalia on Twitter
Twitter@Walk4Somalia
Farid Omar can be reached at : faridoma@gmail.com
Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/311767#ixzz1ZIoo2zy7
Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/312095#ixzz1ZhAnV0uK
More about Walk for Somalia, Somali Canadians, Somalia
 
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