For those in the Netherlands… Our project co-founder filmmaker Ahmed Farah will be on Dutch TV Tonight 22:00 GMT  on NL2

For more info click here

 

“Dadaab: Get there or die trying” is featured on Dutch TV! Check it out here

http://nieuwsuur.nl/video/260362-driehoek-van-de-dood.html (note it is in Dutch!)

 

Brief Update:

New Partnerships!: Thanks to Deeqa M. Afrika, we have a new partnership with Aspire2Lead in Canada.

They recently wrote an article in Sway Magazine “The Face of Famine in Somalia” you can read it here

News article in VOA (Voice of America): We are thankful that they talked about Dadaab and covered some our work in a recent article

“Youth group Fills Gap of Response For Somali Refugees” you can read it here

Online fund-raising: We are at $15,214 raised online! Thank you to our 276 individual donors. Please help us meet our initial $25,000 goal.Click here

Be Blessed.

We welcome you to to join on the team. Please email info (at) hotsunfoundation (dot) org if interested.

July 29th 2011 UPDATE

Outreach and Fundraising

New film screenings planned for “Dadaab: get there or die trying,”  fundraising in UK, Australia, and online fundraising continues. So far raised $14,849 USD online!

Our Team

Wow so much energy and excitement brewing… and all of us have other ‘jobs’ some are journalists, teachers, students, writers, filmmakers… yet we are so energized by the opportunity to, save lives. To achieve something amazing for others, and to test ourselves in service.

Media & Future Plans

We’ve had some media inquiries from the usual suspects, and at times, it consumes alot of energy following up with them. For now.. I think we will be in touch, but the most important thing is to keep building our plans. We have some very exciting, challenge, dare we say it, revolutionary ideas on how to raise awareness and bring REAL help to the refugees who travel from the border to Dadaab.

Stay tuned!

We welcome you to to join on the team. Please email info (at) hotsunfoundation (dot) org if interested.

Be blessed.

-Hot Sun Foundation and Global Somali Emergency Response

July 28th 2011 UPDATE

As our team builds up across the globe… new avenues of support are coming in.

What we are doing now

1- working on outreach, constantly. Not just for funds but for awareness. We’ve been on TV. We are now showing our rough cut of “Dadaab: Get there or Die Trying” through student organizations and Somali organizations around the world. If interested to host screening please email info (at) hotsunfoundation (dot) org

2- New partnerships. We are working with groups in UK and are pleased to welcome Aspire2Lead  from Toronto as a partner. They will be screening “Dadaab: Get there or Die Trying” and help raise funds.

3- Building up logistics, PR team for next travels. Lots of co-ordination on a local scale in Nairobi, and globally for getting PR and resources.

4- Made contacts with Australian High Commission in Nairobi about possible support.

5- Building a global network Somali and global YOUTH support from people from all walks of life / religion / background. The cause matters most. We want to work together, as they say in Kenya ‘Pamoja’.

6- Online fundraising through Global Giving site to check out, click here

We welcome you to to join on the team. Please email info (at) hotsunfoundation (dot) org if interested.

update info from Deeq M. Afrika Nathan Collett, Pamela Collett

Somali Refugees sleeping out in the open as travel to Dadaab refugee Camp.

28 July 2011

Hot Sun Foundation & Global Somali Emergency Response is delighted with the response to date from many many people around the world – 258 so far and climbing. Thanks to all of you, we are over half way to our initial goal of $25,000 USD for the Survival Backpacks for Somali Refugees.

Here is an FAQ on how donations will be used.

Q: Are donations going into Survival Backpacks or is some for the documentation part of the project?

A: All donations go into the Survival Backpacks. The documentation is funded by the filmmaker volunteers. They are doing reports for blogs, and developing a documentary to share the stories of the Somali refugees with all who are interested. So it’s a synergy.

Q: How are logistics or Survival Backpacks funded, i.e purchase, packing, transport and distribution?

A: Currently Hot Sun Foundation and its Somali filmmaker partners are absorbing the costs of personnel and infrastructure for purchase, packing, transport and distribution. We are also able to do this because Hot Sun Foundation has existing infrastructure in Nairobi. To cover logistics and personnel costs, we are basically doing it in addition to everything else we do.

Q: Why a backpack?

A: We are trying to fill a big gap in help that is needed. Many Refugees are WALKING over 60KM from border from Somalia into Kenya to get to the refugee camps in Dadaab. And most have very little.  The thing is we want to give what they can’t get elsewhere. What will help people survive on the long trek to Dadaab by foot.. and then also serve them for a long time to come as they are in the camps.

But we’ve also been, our own dime and through family &  friend support, been distributing water, basic food items, etc along the way. We don’t deny people whatever support we can give. Though we are trying to give medium to longer term support by giving refugees the backpacks which should serve them for sometime to come.

Q: Are there any other overhead costs?

A: Yes, Global Giving has a set percentage of 15% for the work they do. Bank transfer and other fixed costs use another 3%.

The rest goes to buy Survival Backpacks. The backpacks and contents cost $20 each. We are trying to get discounts from Nairobi suppliers.

Q: What is in the backpack?

A: The package includes:

(1) backpack or similar

(1) blanket

(1) shoes or sandles

(1) canteen for water.

NOW..

Here was the reply from one of our supporters on facebook: Thanks, that’s what I appreciate as transparency! Will add my $25 when I get home on the weekend. Good luck with & many blessings for this project!

Now please… Take Action

Donate and share with others

http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/survival-backpacks-for-somali-refugees-in-kenya/

 Email your suggestions, contacts, feedback to

info (at) hotsunfoundation (dot) org. We welcome in-kind donations and volunteers. THANKS for all you do

-Hot Sun Foundation and Global Somali Emergency Response

Screenshot of The Stream. (That is Ahmed)

Ahmed Farah, one of the co-founders of this project, was on Al Jazeera English’s The Stream on July 27th 2011. It was briefly mentioned in our earlier blog posting, but we felt it was important enough that it merited its own post. For those who don’t know, the show The Stream is an amazing concept, where stories are sourced from social media and viewers can ask questions in real time to any of the guests. Also guests are both in the studio and SKYPE IN.

Ahmed Skyped in from Nairobi, and at times the connection was difficult. Ahmed, having worked for several years ON THE GROUND in Dadaab Refugee camp is very passionate about the issue. In fact he went so far as to use a swear word on LIVE TV! It was intense. But it shows the passionate anger that he, and many of us on the team share. And we couldn’t stand by and do nothing anymore. We had to step up, not just film and bring awareness, but real help on the ground.

To see the video of the show click here

Update by Nathan

A younger Nathan Collett circa 2007 in Somalia, on far right Fatima Jibrell founder Horn Relief

Why am I involved in Somalia? I’m an American-Australia Dual-Citizen. Why do I care?

In my work as a filmmaker, I’ve had contacts with the Somali community dating back to before 2007, when I shot a short award-winning film in Northern Somalia called ‘Charcoal Traffic’. Charcoal Traffic dramatises the real life situation of environmental and cultural devastation in Somalia due to cutting trees for charcoal.  Charcoal production, along with climate change, has contributed to the current drought.

Over the years, I’ve been following the situation in Somalia, and concerned that every time the country tries to get on a solid footing there is outside intervention, war, and attacks such as the intervention by Ethiopian troops in 2006. Though Ethiopian troops left in 2009, there was a legacy of anger and destruction left in their path. Many of Somalia’s problems are self-created but have been dramatically made worse by involvement of other geo-political players. An African proverb says that ‘when the elephants fight, the ground suffers’… This is the case in Somalia. The people are suffering.

Collaboration with Somali filmmaker

For several years, myself and a Somali filmmaker of Dutch nationality, Ahmed Farah have been working on a film project about Somali refugees. Long before this crisis hit, Ahmed has been visiting, reporting, documenting in the refugee camps in Dadaab. Then when the crisis hit, we jointly felt we had to do something. And not just anything, but something to fill the gap which even large aid organizations are not addressing. That is, helping people before they get official help as they wait for days, even weeks, to be registered officially at the Dadaab refugee camps. Then they can get international help. But what happens before then? This gave birth to the Survival Backpacks project. To give interim help, as people travel often on foot, for over 60KM from the Kenyan border to the Dadaab refugee camp, and as they wait for support.

Awareness and direct support

As filmmakers we also are working to raise awareness of the issue from a Somali perspective. So we both give tangible help and raise awareness. This is happening in synergy with the distribution of the Survival Backpacks.  None of the costs of filming or transport are coming from Global Giving donations. That is being self-funded and through separate individual donations. At the moment we are producing a documentary ‘Dadaab: get there or die trying” and plan to show this widely in the Somali and international community. So far on July 27th 2011, the trailer of the doc was screened on Al Jazeera English’s The Stream and is on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QR_1G1yOEbA.

Hot Sun Foundation plans to continue raising awareness… but to not limit ourselves to that. People on the ground need help. We’ve seen their faces. We’ve experienced their suffering. We can’t just film. We need to bring real tangible help to change, and potentially, save lives of people suffering. All donations go directly to costs associated with the backpacks.  Please help us help the Somali refugees. To donate please visit here

Thank you for your consideration. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Nathan Collett

Liboi Town 11 am, Monday 18th July 2011

The five of us clutch onto our tools of trade; cameras, pens, paper, mental snapshots. We are desperate to document the things we see, desperate to scratch them with a stick onto the sands of time.

What I’ve been seeing seems too big for my eyes, and I tussle back and forth in my mind, trying to find words to put it down. The nomad ahead of us seems to have the same problem with his camels.

He tugs and tugs, begging his camels to take the few remaining steps to the water pump. The nomad and his camels have walked all the way from Somalia. They are here to have a drink of water before they take the long walk back. But a few metres from the water pump, the camels decide that they have had it. Enough is enough.

Ahmed looks out into the distance, his eyes a chasm through which bits of the past slink. This airfield holds a lot of heavy memories for him. It was once a refugee camp. When he first fled Somalia, the young Ahmed was received here. Now, nineteen years later, he is back, a successful filmmaker eager to see what he can do to help the refugees.

(C) Deeq M. Afrika

Beyond, a group of refugees emerge from the horizon. The little ones are perched on donkeys, the older ones urge the donkeys on. Most are barefoot. The skin over their soles has burst and sand nestles in those crevices, burning, edging closer and closer to their bones.

There is no energy to do things abruptly; even drawing to a stop requires deliberate effort.  We offer them water, biscuits, some milk for the little ones.

They continue to stare at us with their piercing eyes. I wonder, is there a problem? Why won’t they eat or drink? Have they no idea how to open the packaging, or have they simply no energy to do so?

We reach over to do it for them, even lift the bottles to the little ones’ lips. A little girl closes her eyes when the drops touch her tongue, screams when I remove the bottle from her lips. Another little girl laughs. She is so happy to see us.

The oldest woman in the group holds onto a shrub for support. She can’t stand on her feet anymore. She arches downwards, slowly, slowly. When she sits, she doesn’t seem to feel the thorny twigs digging into her flesh.

We ask how old she is. She doesn’t know. What she knows is that they have walked for 22 days. What she knows is that the woman next to her left Somalia with six children. She abandoned two children of them on the road to Kenya; they were weak and she was weak. They were about to die and she couldn’t carry them anymore. Two more children died. She now remains with just two of them.

She struggles with the water cork. Abdisalam opens it for her. The little bottle shakes in her hand.

“For 22 days we avoided walking on the main roads,” the old woman says. “Today we were desperate. We thought we were all going to die. We walked on the main road and prayed that we would meet someone to give us water.”

The sound of car tyres crashing sand grabs our attention. A white SUV zooms towards us. It belongs to an NGO. It slows down. There is surprise in their eyes at the sight of us with the refugees. They are thinking, are these people actually talking to them?

The driver hoots in greeting. The passenger waves a hello. They rev up the engine, hoot again and disappear inside a cloud of dust. A truckful of soldiers slows down. The soldiers raise their guns in greeting. They belong to the Transitional Federal Government Forces. They also rev up, disappear into the interior of Kenya. Another truck of Kenyan soldiers greets us and rushes towards the border with Somalia.

(C) Deeq M. Afrika

 

“Don’t they see these dying people? Why won’t any of them stop?” Matt asks.

Deeq always plays the devil’s advocate. He says, “Well, the soldiers are also hungry.”

One of the girls stares unflinchingly at me. I look away. When I look back, she’s still staring. Her eyes grip mine like a vice; her gaze jerks me against the donkey cart. I pry my eyes away, look down at the sand.

She won’t make it. She is too weak and Dadaab is too far.

“Can’t we give her a ride there?” I ask Daud.

He shakes his head. “That is smuggling. It is illegal in Kenya.”

“But she’ll die!”

“Why do all the NGOs focus on Dadaab only?” Deeq asks. “Most people die on the stretch between Somalia and Kenya, before they reach Dadaab. We need to save these people here!”

He places his hand over his eyes, looks towards Somalia.

“We need to get there,” he says. “There are more of them in Dhobley; we need to reach them.”

By Claudette Oduor

Liboi town: 8.30 am, Monday 18th July 2011.

The waiting is so intense, it’s as if we are waiting to start waiting.

We sit in the car at Arif Centre, by a structure that reads: Peponi Hotel- For Quick Snacks. A bus is docked a few metres away and veiled women, in single file, climb into it. Mashaallah, the front of the bus reads.

A pick-up truck speeds down the road. It has the same sign on it. Mashaallah. An SUV parked across the street reads the same. The people in this town may be poor but everyone has old money stocked up in spiritual currency; they are always hurling God’s blessings at you.

Directly across from Peponi Hotel- For Quick Snacks is Tamaz Communications. The Safaricom logo on it looks almost doodled in place, as though painted there as a school project by the little children we saw playing in the fields yesterday.

Today, the little children are gone. I only hope they are in the classrooms at the nearby Liboi Primary School. Yesterday, dozens and dozens of them pushed and shoved each other, huddling over our cameras.

One woman yielded a long gnarled stick over their heads, herding them off the cameras.

“How dare you interrupt important business?” she demanded, slapping the ground with the stick, threatening them with dire consequences should they not leave us alone.

Most of the children cowered and ran off. One little boy did not. He staggered on his feet, launched himself at the woman and tore away at her arms with his little hands. His eyes were sunken inside their sockets. They were tiny eyes, jaded by tales I did not know, tales I would never hear.

Those little boy’s eyes weren’t just fearless; they were piercing, terrifying. I wondered what would make a nine year old so vicious he would try to beat up an old woman in the street.

Deeq stood between the little boy and the woman, turned him away, gently shoved him towards the other children.

The children followed us all the way to the field of death. Right then when we stood on it, we didn’t know it was a real graveyard; we thought it was only a place where cows went to surrender their spirits to the cow gods.

The field was littered with cows lying in repose on the sand, their flesh long gone. Their rubbery skin, the only thing the marabou storks couldn’t eat, stretched gaunt over the ripples of their spinal discs.

The children hijacked Deeq, tossed a soccer ball at him. I wondered what about this renegade soccer player sold him out to the children. He once played for both the Dutch and the Somali soccer teams.

Deeq dribbled the ball, wove through the children. They laughed and chased him, laughed and chased.

A woman interrupted their squeals of delight. She thought Matt was a doctor. She stood inside the fence of her house, a fence made of thorns and twigs. The sun cast a poignant shadow over her face, and the thorns appeared to be pricking her skin, to be tearing it apart, shredding it.

“Please come,” she begged. “They cut off my sister’s breast.”

Her sister sat outside their twig house, on a traditional mat. Her chest was half bare, revealing a dark crust that looked like someone had melted several plastic bags on her skin. At her feet was a pair of paper scissors. As she talked to us, she squeezed her fingers beneath the dark crust and cleaned out what remained of her breast.

Deeq taking pictures of the new arrivals

She told us that back in Somalia, she had had a tumour. Everyone advised her to visit a traditional doctor. The traditional doctor cut off her breast and told her to go home. She walked to Kenya to seek treatment but has never been to see a doctor.

The dark crust on her chest haunted us. We argued amongst ourselves about what it could be. Was it a tumour? Was it a home-made bandage? Later, Daud explained that it was a concoction of ginger and other home remedies, to stop the tumour from spreading.

At breakfast today morning, over very sweet chai and dry bread, Abdisalim told us that he had dreamt of the dark crust on the woman’s chest. None of us said anything. Evidently, we were still haunted by thoughts of that woman, of the mental images of her dark crust. We saw these images even when were not looking, saw them even in the privacy of our thoughts.

Liboi is awaking. The driver is here. Today, we hope to drive out all the way to Somalia. Let’s see how much waiting still awaits us.

MORE TO COME…

By Claudette Oduor

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.