This group is working together to save the people of Somalia from famine

Somalia, a country in northeastern Africa, is no stranger to famine. Six years ago, the United Nations declared that what had been labelled a “food crisis” was actually a famine, one affecting millions of people in the country. It unfortunately seems that history is now repeating itself, based on how the area’s current famine is unraveling. “Even if you can get food, there is no water,” Sangabo Moalin, a Somalian mother, told The New York Times. That’s right — famine is about more than just food, especially since a lack of water affects disease control, which in turn affects mortality. TIME reports that, already, 26 lives have been lost at the hand of the drought.

This time around, it’s not just one famine that has organizations reaching out for help. Between Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Yemen, four famines may be occurring at the same time. This puts over 20 million lives in danger.

With such an overwhelming number of people in mind, it’s important that ordinary individuals step forward to make extraordinary efforts. This is exactly what inspired Love Army for Somalia, a movement that started with a seemingly impossible idea: To convince Turkish Airlines to fill one of their planes with food for the people of Somalia.

Together, actor Ben Stiller; athlete Colin Kaepernick; and social media stars Casey Neistat, Jérôme Jarre, Chakabars Clarke, Juanpa Zurita, and Amanda Cerny worked to meet this remarkable goal. And they did it. Turkish Airlines agreed to work with the group — donating a full cargo plane so they can fly 60 tons of food to Somalia. Going one step further, the airline also offered to let Love Army ship food containers on their commercial planes until the end of the famine.

Moreover, in the span of 12 days, over 85,000 people contributed over $2.4 million to the cause. These funds are being managed by Ben Stiller’s charity The Stiller Foundation.

In the future, those working on this mission hope to buy food directly from local businesses in Somalia, so they can support the country’s economy during this trying time. However, for their first flight, all food is being purchased in Istanbul, as a thank you to the Turkish individuals who are supporting the cause.

It’s also important to note that clean water has not been forgotten. Love Army has teamed up with the non-profit, on-the-ground American Refugee Committee. This organization promoted the fact that getting water trucks delivered to the Somalian people is a top priority. As of yesterday, the team updated those following along to say that they were on their way to Somalia, where the delivery of 90,000 liters of water has arrived. “It may seem like a lot of water but we can assure you it is a tiny tiny drop compared to the needs there,” Love Army wrote on their GoFundMe page.

A cargo flight full of Plumpy’Nut, emergency food for malnourished children, is also set to arrive in a few days. While waiting for the plane, 60 tons of local food will be distributed.

Navyn Salem, the Founder of Edesia, which produces Plumpynut, told HelloGiggles,

"The Love Army is shining a much-needed light on the humanitarian crisis in Somalia. We love Jérôme Jarre, Chaka, and all the others involved for proving, in 10 days, that our shared humanity is far more powerful than our politics. With 85,000 donors from 125 countries raising $2.4 million — we can also see how the heart of the world is still fundamentally beating for hope, love, and change. With over 20 million people around the world at risk of dying from starvation due to a lack of food, the Love Army’s influence through social media is coming at just the right time. Edesia is incredibly grateful to partner with them to provide a fortified peanut paste called Plumpy’Nut, which has been proven to treat malnutrition in children."

“It is easy to shut off to the hardships and suffering that is not in our immediate experience, to become anesthetized to the constant news of those in need," Ben Stiller stated, according to TIME. "But Jerome and his compatriots understand that beneath this, human beings have a real desire to help each other. And he is all about activating that desire and turning it into action."

To follow along with and to donate to this meaningful movement, you can visit the group’s GoFundMe page.

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