Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Turning Outrage into Action: Clay Aiken, UNICEF and the Children of Somalia

Clay Aiken laughs with children he met on a UNICEF field visit to northwest Somalia.

Photo by Nick Ysenburg, US Fund for UNICEF


UNICEF Ambassador Clay Aiken has blogged about his recent visit to Somalia in a UNICEF FieldNote entitled "Where is the outrage?"

Somalia, a country of ten million located in the Horn of Africa, has been torn asunder by civil war for seventeen years. With no central government and few safe havens for those caught up in the conflict, it has been completely destabilized. Children, the most vulnerable, are among those most affected by these conditions.

Is that reason enough to be outraged?

Aiken says, in part:

...the lack of a permanent central government has contributed to Somalia's status as one of the poorest and most volatile countries in the world. Decades of civil conflict have shattered social structures and exacerbated poverty.

In such conditions—combined with an extremely arid environment and difficult terrain with settlements scattered over vast distances—a Somali child's chances of surviving to adulthood are among the lowest of children anywhere in the world.

One in every eight children do not survive to their fifth birthday, one of the highest rates of death among children in the world.

One in eight.

Is that reason enough to be outraged?

Major infectious diseases are rampant, contributing to a life expectancy of less than fifty years. There is a "very high" risk of food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever, and "high risks" of malaria and dengue fever. (Source: CBS News)

Nearly all of these conditions are preventable with sources of safe water, proper hygiene and improved nutrition, as well as medicines and vaccines that are readily available in the western world. Yet people, especially children, continue to die.

Is that reason enough to be outraged?

To make matters worse, aid workers and activists who are on the ground in Somalia working to improve people's lives are being targeted by insurgents, kidnapped and murdered. Many humanitarian aid organizations have been forced to withdraw from the country, but UNICEF is still there, serving the people of Somalia since 1972, at great risk to their own lives and safety. In the last few days alone, the chief of the Somalia office for the United Nations Development Program was shot dead, a fourth driver for the World Food Program was killed and a prominent Somali peace activist as murdered as he left morning prayer. (Source:

Is that reason enough to be outraged?

Somaliland, the region of the country Aiken visited, is relatively safe when compared to the utter chaos that reigns throughout most of the country, and it is there where the success of UNICEF programs is most apparent. Aiken describes his visit to UNICEF-supported schools and hospitals, centers where girls learn leadership, life-skills and play sports, and UNICEF-supported maternal and child health clinics that offer nutritional feeding and immunization. These programs save lives.

Is that reason enough to turn outrage into action?

Go to the US Fund for UNICEF and read Clay Aiken's Somalia blog, "Where is the outrage?"

Then DONATE to support UNICEF's child survival programs in Somalia.

These UNICEF programs have been proven to be effective. They need to be supported and children need to survive while the monumental task of bringing peace to Somalia continues. If the children don't survive, what future does Somalia have?

Take action.

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,,


feelingthejoy said...

Thanks so much for your blog. I know that I feel enough injustice in the situation to reach into my pocket and donate. I appreciate the opportunities provided by UNICEF, Clay, and you to enlighten and educate others in regard to the plight of the Somalian children.


jane, Singapore said...

Wonderful Blog - thanks berkeley.

LOVE is the greatest gift.

There are millions in the world who are stripped of their right to human dignity and love ... so how do we justify love to those who are hungry for love and need to be loved especially those who are born in war-torn countries and in places lesser known to the world at large?

~ Mother Teresa ~

"Humanity's greatest sin stems from denying the poor their right to human dignity, because human beings measure being human only by the standard of the things they own.

Love begins at home. It isn't how much we do but how much love we put into what we do that really counts."

It is a great reminder that helping hands can be in many forms, one can still sow love with charity from the heart. Any little giving bit can save a little life and it is one way to providing the means to funding organisations and supporting their advocates in accomplishing their goals and missions.

Thank you UNICEF, your missionaries and Clay Aiken for continuously bringing and raising the awareness of the hungry & needy children and people in places of the lesser known, war-torn and struggling world.

... The beauty of a man's heart & soul shines through in Clay Aiken, lighting the hearts of those he walks amongst and surrounds with.

jane, Singapore

Anonymous said...

berkeyley, as usual your blog has spoken it enough to be outraged...oh yes, and then some...let's hope we can all turn our outrage in to action...thanks for the blog

Anonymous said...

Somalia has been off my personal radar for many years so I had no idea the conditions for women and children were this bad. Thank God for Unicef's continuing work and their celebrity ambassadors who help bring these unacceptable realities to our awareness. I will definitely be using the link to donate.

Allegra said...

It's heart-breaking that children don't have their basic needs met when there is so much excess in the world. Thank you for another wonderful blog.

Sharon said...

Turning outrage into action works well for me.

Children are our future, and they need all the love, support and care that can be given.

Off to make a donation. Thank you for this blog.

stpteach said...

Clay's findings can't be repeated enough, so brava for your post on the Conclayve. I applaud Ambassador Aiken, as well as those who find it in their hearts to make a donation of whatever amount they're most comfortable contributing. I've made mine; I hope your readers will, too.

Anonymous said...

I'd say that's reason enough.
Well said Berkeley.
You have a gift with words.
I'll be giving as I can.
Thanks, ~Meesh~

Anonymous said...

Good as always Berkeley-

Pink Armchair said...

Wonderful blog as usual, berkeley! I hope that Clay's trip shines a spotlight on this issue and helps these children have better lives. Thank you for everything you (and he) are doing to raise awareness of this tragic situation.

Anonymous said...

Berkley: Thanks for this blog. So many of us become comfortable and complacent in the 'things' we take for granted. We should be outraged at how this part of the world is suffering so much. I applaud Clay Aiken for going beyond himself to dare to make a difference . I only hope that my contribution will make a difference as well. God Bless You Clay for your selflessness !

Anonymous said...

Great blog. This is such a terrible situation and it must be addressed by the wealthier countries of the world. Unfortunaely until there is peace there and in the other undeveloped countres there is only so much we can do. However we should do what we can, even if it only save's one child's life. I plege a monthly amount which isn't much but it is steady, and I give often to special pleas. Clay Aiken is a good man and it is obvious that he creates an immediate bond with the people of these countries, especially the children.

Denise said...

Berk...these words need to be said. The politics of the region are no excuse to ignore the cries of the innocents...the children. We must do what we can to bring attention to the sad circumstances in Somalia.

Clay Aiken and others, who risk personal safety to bring the stories to life, walk a path of dedication of bringing a voice to those who cannot speak.

I am listening...I will react!

CinnamonStardust said...

Great blog berkeley! Outrageous. Absolutely. Kudos for elaborating on Clay's field notes, and bringing to the forefront the desperate circumstances in Somalia. Hopefully, through increased awareness, all humanity will join together to lift up those in such dire need. Imagine.

Anonymous said...

What heartbreaking child mortality statistics. Thanks for the informative blog and for the link to donate to UNICEF.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this information. I have run across it 3 times today. Yes, I'm outraged, and will do something about it...a donation is a start.

Anonymous said...

Conditions in Somalia are frightening and give me some real perspective on my own non life threatening troubles. I've been homeless, I've been sick and I've been hungry, but I'm also very lucky to be living in the United States. The help I received put me back on my feet and in turn I make sure to help out others at our local homeless shelter. I have never witnessed anything like what I'm seeing in the photos linked to the UNICEF site. I may not have much to give, but I can certainly spare a few dollars for these women and children.