An anonymous donor wants Salt Lake area residents to match the $100,000 he is pledging to give starving people in war-torn Somalia.
At a news conference Monday, Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Cor-radini joined a representative of the donor and a local Red Cross official to plead for help. If local residents contribute $100,000 to match the donation, the Red Cross will be able to keep five kitchens going for one year in the city of Afgoi, near the Somalian capital of Mogadishu."It's hard to see children that look like skeletons and women and elderly people who can't walk and not be affected by it," Corradini said. She said many local residents want to help but don't know how to do so effectively.
Because the donations will go to the Red Cross, donors can feel satisfied their money is being used properly, said Lois Barker, local Red Cross chapter manager.
"We can guarantee all the money will go to the International Committee of the Red Cross," she said.
Red Cross officials operate 20 kitchens in Afgoi. The kitchens serve cooked food on the spot, allowing relief workers to feed people without worrying that women, children and the elderly will be overpowered and robbed of their food before they can eat.
Dale Zabriskie represented the donor, described only as a local businessman. Zabriskie said the donor hopes schools and civic groups will start competitions to see who can raise the most money for Somalians.
"Rather than worrying about which high school football team is the best, why not see which high school can raise the most money for Somalia?" he said.
If $200,000 is donated, it will feed about 9,000 people daily for a year, he said.
About 36,000 people struggle to survive in Afgoi, which once was surrounded by fertile land known for its annual crops of fruits and vegetables. When war started in 1991, thousands of people fled the fighting and came to Afgoi. The rich farmland soon was destroyed by looting and by armed conflicts.
The Red Cross kitchens provide rice, beans, lentils and vegetable oil. Red Cross officials estimate 95 percent of Somalians are malnourished, and 75 percent are in danger of starving.
How to help:
To donate money to Somalia, write checks payable to "Somali Relief Project" and send them to the Salt Lake chapter of the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 6279. Or, if you wish to donate anonymously, make checks payable to "American Red Cross - Somali Relief Fund" and mail to Key BAnk of Utah, Crossroads Office, Suite 1012, P.O. Box 30815, Salt Lake City, Ut 84130-0815. Write account number 580030179 on the checks.