In the East African nation of Somalia, people are dying of hunger. Governments around the world are scrambling to help the victims of the country’s famine. But perhaps no one is working harder than one West African schoolboy.
Andrew Adansi-Bonnah is 11. And during his eight-week school holiday, he set out to raise 20 million Ghanaian cedis — or about $13 million — for the cause by walking from office to office collecting donations.
In the first few weeks of his drive, Andrew collected about $6,500 in pledges for the fund he started after consulting with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations’ World Food Program. His father, a teacher, donated his entire July salary of about $500.
Andrew said he was inspired by images of starving children he saw on television, which led him to name his campaign Save Somali Children From Hunger.
“There are hungry people in Ghana but our situation is not as desperate as the people of Somalia,” said the soft-spoken boy.
The United Nations estimates that more than 12 million people across East Africa need food aid because of a long-running drought that has sent more than 100,000 people fleeing to refugee camps. Somalia has been hit the hardest. U.S. officials estimate that the famine has killed 29,000 children in the past three months.
The United Nations has yet to raise half of the $2.4 billion it has requested from donor countries.
Andrew said he is confident he can raise all the money. Ghanaians on average earn $2,500 a year, compared to Somalia’s average yearly income of $600, according to 2010 estimates. (In the United States, it’s $47,200.)
His father said Andrew’s interest in the cause surprised him. “I even wondered why a child of his age should be concerned about people far away from him,” Samuel Adansi-Bonnah said.
Andrew, who often wears a bright orange T-shirt bearing his project’s name, is an energetic fundraiser. He said he has made several attempts to draw attention to his cause, including a TV appearance and media interviews that have made him a minor celebrity in Ghana.
Andrew, who wants to be a pilot when he grows up, said he also wants to meet with Somalis who have fled to overcrowded refugee camps in Kenya.
“This is a moment that mankind can touch lives,” he said. “There is no point for others to have so much to eat while others have nothing to eat. It is not right.”