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Somalia: Seeing The Pain Up Close And Personal

August 13, 2011, Mogadishu, Somalia]-----You are probably overwhelmed by the numerous crises gripping the globe at this very moment. Tired of the cycle of gruesome pictures and videos circulating the Web, on television and in print. I don't blame you.

Somalia's devastating famine; Syria's ongoing bloodshed; many wars sending body bags back home; financial meltdown; economic hard times; riots; high unemployment, global unrest and poverty. It's a lot to handle, process, especially when you feel helpless at your inability to contribute or facilitate change.

Somalia's starving children tug at my core for I know what it is to feel prolonged hungery as a child. Know what it is to watch your parents feel helpless at solving that basic problem. Provide food and water. I grew up in a place where food shortage and political unrest went hand in hand.

However I do not know what it feels like to be so emaciated and dehydrated that nothing can bring you back from the brink of death. As I watched CNN Anderson Cooper report from the center of the devastation, I wondered why this crisis was ignored to the point that it has escalated to this shocking level.

To the level where 3.6 plus million men, women and children are at risk of dying like mere flies from lack of basic living necessities.

It seems as a world, we have woefully shuffled our priorities to the point where the most humanitarian and vital issues have fallen to the bottom of the pile and the less important have climbed to the top.

Prime Minister Cameron attributed the riots in England as simply the "criminality of folks who feel entitled to take what they didn't work for." Some of the looting and rioting might be fueled by hooligans but the underlying causes must run much deeper than the P.M.'s analysis. I know because I have lived throw riots and looting.

I have lived through political unrest which boiled over into strikes, which ricocheted into lack of food. If you were very poor like we were, the situation was magnified. When a father sees his children hungry and there is no other way to feed them, he will resort to whatever he has to even if he is an honest, honorable man. Like my Dad.

Revolution usually follows this kind of oppression and that is exactly what happened where I grew up. From looting and burning to armed uprising. I have lived and witnessed a lot, but nothing compares to the abject pain and poverty I see in Somalia.

The hungry children with blank vacant stares, emaciated bodies, huge distended stomachs with parents helplessly looking on, too weak themselves to express much emotion. The uncanny quiet in the filled-beyond-capacity hospitals, with overworked, understaffed doctors and aid workers, is the loudest cry for help I have heard in a long time. The silent screams are deafening. Palpable.

Can you imagine not being able to feed your baby? Can you imagine having all of your children die from starvation in this famine then not have any money to bury them? Can you imagine living through strife and civil war, then slammed with an unending deadly drought?

Can you imagine dying slowly, from the excruciating pain of hunger?

I know, it's unfathomable isn't it?

Sadly, that is the people of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia's stark reality.

The UN says this is the worst humanitarian crisis of 2011 where over 29,000 children have died in just 90 days and that $1.2 billion is needed to fight it.

A small donation of $7, provides therapeutic food for a malnourished child, so if you can afford to spare a little, the following charities are accepting donations online:

The British Red Cross

The Kenya Red Cross

Oxfam

Save The Children

International Rescue Committee

The ELCA World Hunger Relief

The U.N. Children's Fund

International Medical Corps

To read more, click here:How You Can Help: Somalia Famine Relief