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Poverty Alleviation Projects

January 31, 2008

Dear Friends:

Welcome to your first report of 2008 for The $10 Club!

Ma’ay Addow Nor is 48 years old and is from a poor minority group in Somalia. She has been marginalized for many years and has endured hard times during the country’s nearly two decades of violent internal conflict. In addition to her own five children she is bringing up a five year old girl and a one year old girl, both of whom were abandoned by their parents. The five year old was left in an abandoned garage at birth; the one year old in a garbage dump. Ma’ay also cares for her bedridden, sick 87 year old mother. She has to travel two kilometers to reach a soup kitchen for her daily meal.

Her sustenance comes courtesy of SAACID, an Australian nonprofit organization working on humanitarian relief endeavors in Somalia. The name SAACID is the Somali word meaning “to help.” The organization currently operates soup kitchens at ten sites within Mogadishu, the capital. As of the end of January 2008, SAACID has served well over two million hot meals to the starving people of the city.

Somalia seems to have been forgotten in the conscience of America, but the situation in the country is desperate to say the least. Reports from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs note that hundreds of thousands of people have fled Mogadishu because of the violent impacts of civil war. Those who are displaced face a hard road clinging to life in camps for Internally Displaced People where they often lack water, adequate shelter, health care, and food. Some residents of these IDP camps have lived in them for more than a decade and thousands are facing eviction now by government forces. Meanwhile, little rain in the region has led to food and water shortages with prices doubling and many women and children showing signs of malnourishment.

Guillermo Bettocchi, Somali representative of the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, said in a Reuters report this week: "I've never seen anything like Somalia before... The situation is very severe. It is the most pressing humanitarian emergency in the world today—even worse than Darfur."

Even SAACID’s operations are in trouble. They are facing a $160,000 shortfall in the final month of the first four-month phase of the program. Without sufficient funds to operate, thousands of people—literally some of the most desperate people on the planet—will lose access to the meager food resources they have available.

This month 380 of us donated $3,800 to SAACID to support their food program. Although this is a “drop in the bucket” of the overall shortfall, it means that we will be able to underwrite 20,320 meals! Our funds will contribute to the overall cost of the project, which includes the salaries for the soup kitchen workers (displaced people actually in the camps); supplemental items like firewood, water, and transportation costs; and of course, the food itself. 20,320 meals. Thank you.

A key feature of the SAACID soup kitchens is that they are open to any and all who need a lifesaving meal—without favor to gender, age, or clan affiliation. This generosity of spirit has led to immense support from all sectors of the public and resulted in no conflict at any of the sites. The kitchens provide one cooked meal per day to those wanting it. The meal consists of maize; a soup including lemon, garlic, Somali spices, tomato, onion, and salt; and a banana.

The ten sites served are Shibis/Abdul-aziz, Bondhere/Wardigley, Yaqshid/Hawl-wadag, Karaan, Wadajir, Warberi/Hamar-jajab, Dharkeynley, Hamar-weyne/Shingani, and Deynile. SAACID surveys of the hundreds of thousands of people served at these sites show men, women, and children in dire straights. The biggest need facing them is access to food, and then employment, education, shelter, health / sanitation, and lastly fresh water. Interestingly, more people listed food as their biggest humanitarian need than all the other areas combined.

It’s no wonder access to life’s simple needs are so elusive to people there. In another SAACID survey, 252,369 people were asked about their income. The average monthly income for all workers was US $12.31. When one factors in families with children and others not drawing an income, the average individual income for displaced Somalis seeking meals from the food kitchens is US $1.78 per person per month.

As you know from our giving history, I normally don’t like to add our funds to large projects, but rather to devote them to projects when we can fund them in full. But the thought of the money—and therefore the food—running out at 10 soup kitchens around Mogadishu was too overwhelming for me.

Every bite of food we take is a blessing we take for granted. What a miracle to be able to provide twenty thousand meals to these unimaginably hopeless people. It might keep them going one extra day. It might save them from starvation.

I can’t think of a better way to start the year, and I’m so grateful for your support.

Saving the world, ten dollars at a time,

The $10 Club is a nonprofit corporation registered in the District of Columbia.
Contributions are exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The $10 Club 2040 Tunlaw Rd., NW Washington, DC 20007 (202) 337-3123 adam@thetendollarclub.org