Scarborough elementary school students joined emergency-relief GlobalMedic and the International Development Relief Foundation (IDRF) to prepare emergency kits to support about 600 families affected by the famine and drought in Somalia on Monday.
Students from grades one to eight packed the kits, which include essential ready-to-use supplementary food, oral dehydration sachets, hygiene — and a Rainfresh Household Water Purification Unit that will provide a family with safe drinking water for the entire year — at the Islamic Institute of Toronto.
Their efforts came as the federal government announced it will match donations made by Canadians to registered Canadian charities from March 17 to June 30 this year for the famine crisis in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.
“What is happening in Somalia is there are 6.7 million people that are in dire need of assistance because of the famine,” said Rahul Singh, the Director of GlobalMedic.
“Many of [them] will die if we don’t get them [help].”
Problem of unhygienic water
Singh stressed that it is not necessarily the lack of food that is fatal to the people impacted, but the unhygienic water that they are drinking.
“They actually get killed by viruses in the dirty water they are drinking,” he said. “So in these kits, by giving the mom the capacity of having a clean water kit, we are going to get these kids clean water for the next year and keep them alive.”
Nabil Ali, the Program Manager at IDRF, said it was amazing to see the urgency in response from people around the world in the face of the crisis in Somalia.
“There has been a global response from donors all around the world, especially some of the work that we are doing here today, where people are providing essential hygiene items for families, they’re providing water, they’re providing food, and there has been a global response,” he said.
“We are really trying to tackle the drought in Somalia before it becomes a full-blown famine. There is global response and the work is being done.”
He said it was important to work with the local community as it engaged the donors and and gave the students a hands-on experience of what it is like to provide help.
“These are good steps by the government, but you know what…it is kids like this that are taking action in putting these kits together,” said Singh.