Struggling East End families donating in their droves to Somali famine fund

PUBLISHED: 13:04 24 August 2011

A mother holds her severly malnourished son at a feeding centre in Soudo, Southern Ethiopia

A mother holds her severly malnourished son at a feeding centre in Soudo, Southern Ethiopia


Struggling families across the East End have been donating whatever they can to the famine relief effort in the Horn of Africa, the head of a Somali women’s group said.

Safia Jama, who runs the Bethnal Green-based Somali Integration Team, recently met with deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman to discuss the crisis and what is being done on both a national and local level to help the 12 million people in the region whose lives are at risk.

Tower Hamlets Somali community – the largest in Britain – has raised hundreds of pounds through fundraisers and collections and has more events planned next month.

Ms Jama said: “People have been paying £20, or whatever they can pay, and that can feed a whole family for a few weeks.

“Working at a women’s organisation, I’ve been hearing stories from people whose family are affected in Somalia but those who have relatives in London are the luckier ones.

“It’s those Somalis who don’t have connections here that are most vulnerable.”

According to the UN, parts of Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti are facing the worst food crisis to have hit Africa for two decades.

A lot of the ideas for fundraising in the East End have come from children and a family day in Mile End Park recently raised more than £800.

Ms Jama said youngsters, including her own son, have been going without haircuts so they can donate the cash to the relief effort.

Next month the group is planning a dinner and entertainment evening for non-Somalis to experience the country’s cuisine and culture.

All cash raised will go towards the famine fund.

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