As we all watch in awe as the human train wreck that is Toronto mayor Rob Ford continues to unfold, let us take a moment to reflect on the very ugly role that racism is playing in the Ford saga. I think that many of the people who claim to be disturbed by the fact that Rob Ford does drugs are, on some level, actually disturbed by the fact that Rob Ford (allegedly) smokes crack with Somalians in Little Mogadishu.
The Somali Canadian population is "undergoing the growing pains of integration into the larger Canadian mainstream" according to the head of the influential Somali Canadian Congress. Ahmed Hussen, a noted activist and newly minted Ottawa University lawyer, reflects on mentorship, influence and integration for Canada's large Somali population.
Fatumo's childhood was contained in the world's largest refugee camp; a place we worry carries a stigma for harbouring victims who await handouts. She fought against a bleak fate that seems sealed by outside media: images of desperate people who refuse to help themselves. Instead she chased a dream to study abroad.
Journalists predicted that the rains would come in October, implying that this would end the crisis. But by then, the planting season will have passed. The rains, if they come, will likely bring flooding and disease. The famine may peak in early December, as we are preparing to celebrate our winter holidays.
Since appeals first went out for donations to the east African famine, relief agencies have reported that approximately $16 million has come in from Canada. The figure for Britain, however, stands at £45 million in public donations. Why? It is our lack of organizational ability to combine our efforts that fails.
The crisis in East Africa has prompted Canadians to open their wallets and their hearts, but with the sheer number of government agencies, NGOs and private sector organizations responding to humanitarian crises, it remains difficult to know who to support and how much of the money will actually get there.