Colin Kaepernick isn’t kneeling on the sidelines anymore.
The NFL quarterback is collaborating with social media star Jerome Jarre and Hollywood actor Ben Stiller to bring much needed aid to Somalia.
Kaepernick announced via Twitter that Turkish Airlines has granted a 60-ton cargo plane to bring food and water to Somalia, which is on the brink of its third famine in the last 25 years.
In three days, The LOVE ARMY FOR SOMALIA, as the project is called on its GoFundMe page, has raised more than $1,777,000, just short of its $2 million goal. The Stiller Foundation will manage donated funds.
The first food cargo will be purchased in Turkey as a nod to the airline flying it to the Horn of Africa. Going forward, the LOVE ARMY aims to buy food locally in Somalia to jumpstart the nation’s economy.
The project will rent water trucks to alleviate drought. Each 2,000-liter truck can deliver clean water to 100 families of six.
The American Refugee Committee will handle aid distribution.
The last famine in Somalia occurred in 2011 and took 260,000 lives. Currently, more than 6.2 million people, roughly half the country’s population, need urgent humanitarian aid. More than 360,000 children are acutely malnourished.
Combined with a drought that has severely limited access to clean water, the population is much more susceptible to diseases like cholera and measles.
The Turkish Airlines flight will not be a one-time drop. Rather, the airline has agreed to continually fly aid into Somalia until the famine and drought are alleviated.
Kaepernick is no stranger to humanitarian causes. He dominated headlines this past NFL season when he chose to kneel during the pre-game playing of the “Star Spangled Banner.”
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”
Kaepernick remains a free agent at the time of this writing. Some speculate NFL teams won’t sign Kaepernick because of his protests, either because of the potentially negative PR or to send a message that professional athletes should shut up and play.
Kaepernick is clearly not letting it deter his work off the field.
The LOVE ARMY FOR SOMALIA is among many international humanitarian efforts in east Africa. Malaysia, for instance, is sending troops to Somalia secure a delegation with food and medical supplies. Canada pledged CAN$120 million (US$90 million) to fight food insecurity in Somalia, as well as Nigeria, Yemen, and South Sudan.
The UK is providing £100 million (US$124 million) in support of Somalia and another £100 million in South Sudan for the next two years. The government has also promised to match the first £5 million (US$6.2 million) of public donations to the Disaster and Emergency Committee’s East Africa Crisis Appeal.
While many nations are bolstering funding for foreign aid, the United States is poised to go in the opposite direction.
US President Donald Trump’s budget proposal would cut $10.9 billion from the State Department in favor of beefing up the military. Though foreign aid composes less than 1% of the current US budget, the proposed one would slash funding to the United Nations by more than 50%, effectively handcuffing international aid organizations like UNICEF and the World Food Programme at a time when they’re needed most.
Trump’s budget still has to get approved by Congress, but if Kaepernick’s Somalia fundraiser is any indication, US citizens don’t want to see people from around the world needlessly suffer.