In July 2011, Antonio Guterres, head of UN refugee agency, told the Huffington Post, “I believe Somalia represents the worst humanitarian disaster in the world.” Without a doubt, the ongoing famine in the Horn of Africa presents a tremendous challenge to inhabitants and to the local and international aid organizations attempting to help them. According to the BBC, as of September, 12,000,000 people were reported to be in need of food aid, and 750,000 were at risk of death.
In response to this crisis, a student organization coalition–comprising Asian American Sisters in Action (AASIA), Association of Pan-African Unity (APAU), Mount Holyoke African and Caribbean Students’ Association (MHACASA), Creating Awareness and Unity for Social Equality (C.A.U.S.E.), and affiliate Refugee Awareness Week (RAW)–will be hosting a Charity Benefit Concert Thursday, October 20 from 7:30 to 9 pm in the Blanchard Great Room.
Featured performers include two Five College West African Drumming/Dance classes (led by Faith Conant and Marilyn Sylla), the a cappella groups Nice Shoes and Sacred Symphonies, spoken word artists Tayllor Johnson '15 and Lazora Jordan '12, hip-hop/rap performers from nearby Springfield, and several groups performing Ethopian, Georgian, and Hawaiian dances. Speakers will be MHC history professor Holly Hanson and Reverend Gladys Moore, dean of religious and spiritual life.
All proceeds collected will go to the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation, named for a Somali Muslim female doctor who has cared for the Somali people for nearly 30 years. Abdi is one of Somalia’s first female gynecologists and the founder of one of the country's first NGOs. She runs a hospital/refugee camp in Mogadishu, providing water, shelter, and health care to more than 90,000 internally displaced people. Abdi and her daughters were winners of the 2010 Glamour magazine “Women of the Year” award; a thank-you message from them will be relayed during the concert.
Entry at the door is $3 for the general public, with further donations welcome. Seating is limited, so early arrival is encouraged. For more information, email Sharon W.H. Ling '12 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Halima Ahmed '13 (email@example.com).