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Three Inspiring Books about Volunteering

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Years of fighting and conflict has left Somalia torn and its citizens in abject poverty. It continues to hover between what the United Nations describes as a most failed state to a fragile one. The plight of the country has awakened an interest and desire of some people to explore volunteer work possibilities in the area. But security conditions have made this path difficult to pursue. But there are other ways to help the most vulnerable in Somalia through the various charities and international humanitarian organizations present there. And there are also other volunteering abroad free programs worth exploring. Here are some of the best books that provide insights about life abroad as a volunteer.

1. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
This is a raw and deeply moving story of the plight of women from around the world. Written by two Pulitzer Prize winners, this book takes a look into the continuing oppression and the struggles of women and how even the smallest help can make a huge difference in uplifting women’s lives.

2. In the Shadow of Man by Jane Goodall
In the Shadow of Man shares the inspiring story of the renowned scientist’s early years in Tanzania’s Gombe Stream Reserve. It provides a heartwarming insight into her work with chimpanzees and the bond she developed with them over the years.

3. Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
This is a story that shows how a failure can lead to something much better. Failing to climb K2, which is one of the highest mountains in the world, Greg Mortenson stumbled into a village in Pakistan. While there, he noted the lack of schools that will educate the villagers, especially the children. Three Cups of Tea is an inspiring tale of the humanitarian spirit and the lengths a person will go to help others.


What You Can Do to Help People Suffering from Famine in Somalia


Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance. ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Food insecurity and shortage has long been a problem in Somalia even without the drought. But with the threat of famine spreading across the country due to severe drought, millions of people including young children are in dire need of food, water, and sanitation among others. If you want to help in whatever little way you can, here are some of the international humanitarian organizations where you can donate to send your support in Somalia.

Concern Worldwide
Concern is an international humanitarian organization that works in some of the poorest nations in the world to provide food and nourishment. They have a community of health workers in Somalia who are trying to save children from hunger and malnourishment.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International
MSF has been working in Somalia from 1991 until 2013 when they had to pull out due to increasing attacks on its staff. It will resume its work in the country by providing support to Mudug regional hospital located in the Puntland region. Donating to the organization will help its efforts to offer much-needed support for the hospital and its patients.

The Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs or OCHA work on famine prevention, drought response, and humanitarian work.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Working with Somali Red Crescent, the ICRC provides emergency assistance and other humanitarian works and projects.

UNICEF Somalia works in addressing problems on malnourishment, providing vaccinations, and humanitarian response to famine-stricken places.

World Vision
World Vision works on providing emergency food and water to the most vulnerable children in East African countries stricken by severe drought and facing a hunger crisis.

5 Best Films that Provide a Glimpse into Life and the Struggles in Somalia

Out of sight, out of mind. This adage just about sums up how the world seems wired to forget about anything that it does not see. Somalia is probably one of the places in the world that many people know little about outside of its reputation as a lawless failed state. But it is home to millions of people with its own rich history, culture, and struggles that not many people know about. While movies may not capture the uniqueness and complexities of a country, they can at least provide glimpse into its life and travails. Here are some of the best films that will make you think about Somalia.

Black Hawk Down (2001)

The film is an adaptation of the book Black Hawk Down written by Mark Bowden. It tells the story of U.S. soldiers dropped in the heart of Mogadishu on a mission to capture a Somali warlord’s two top men. The soldiers were met by an unexpected attack that led to a long-drawn gunfight. Twenty soldiers died including the 18 men from the Army Rangers, Delta Force, and Task Force 160 aircrew. It is a gripping tale of a mission in a country torn by war and lawlessness.

Captain Phillips (2013)

Based on a true story, Captain Phillips tells the story of Captain Richard Phillips and the hijacking of the American container ship Maersk Alabama. It tells the tale of the events that unfolded when Somali pirates hijacked the ship and held Captain Phillips hostage in 2009.

Desert Flower (2009)

Desert Flower is a film based on the story of international model Waris Dirie. It is a tale of her journey from being a Somali nomad who experienced female genital mutilation (FMG), sold at 13 to become a bride, and her escape from Africa to build a new life as a global supermodel and FMG activist.

Godka Cirka (2013)

A Hole in the Sky (Godka Cirka) is a poignant film that provides a glimpse into the lives of three female shepherdesses in a village in Somaliland. It takes a look into the challenges and the struggles including the practice of female genital mutilation that dates back to the old days.

Men In The Arena (2015)

Instability, piracy, and terrorism are just some of the top things that come to many people’s mind about Somalia. Men In The Arena is a film that departs from these common themes. It instead puts the spotlight on the Somali national football team and its two athletes as they try to chase their dreams. It is a tale of hope in the midst of hopelessness.