Somalia: The Toughest Place I’ve Ever Visited

I was never quite sure if the 40 man military was surrounding us to protect us or kidnap us.

Most were in plain clothes with shoulder-straps full of bullets and machine guns pointed randomly at nothing in particular. There was a mini-van with the sunroof open and a guy sticking his head out with a turret gun, grinning and looking like he was having a blast.

But the real story is that Somalis are suffering like never before. Unprecedented drought and famine throughout the country. An almost non-existent government. Al Shabab terrorists running wild and a horrible cholera outbreak.

There was only one way to get into the heart of Somalia — by small twin engine plane from Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). We were the first ever visitors to where my friend Ali lives (the former Prime Minister of Somalia and the current President of a newly formed region/state). It was expensive and a bit scary, to be honest.

The situation is almost unimaginable. I honestly can’t believe that places like this still exist in 2017. Utter poverty. No water. Little food. Livestock and people dying daily. I’ve been in war-torn countries — they have their own level of horror (wondering how humans could do this to each other) — but a place like this feels different. So much of this is the weather’s fault. The water is almost impossibly deep to drill wells and the interior has no coastline for desalination (as if they could afford that), so they just die when there’s no rain.

HOWEVER — and this is where we need your help to partner with us — there are some bright spots of hope.

  1. It rained! Ali put me on the spot in front of a few hundred people and said that “Sheikh Carl will now pray for rain.” It hadn’t rained for 13 months. No, I didn’t feel a surge of faith, but I did raise my voice and pray (and he translated into Somali). And it rained the next day.  And has rained many times since. The people recognized it as a gift from God.
  2. Somali Expats. Some Somali women moved back from the U.S. and the U.K. and are giving their lives to help their people – an amazing group. We want to help them feed the sick in the makeshift hospital (which they are currently doing with their own resources).
  3. Medical Personnel. The makeshift hospital has no wireless and not one computer. We have doctors lined up here in the States who will advise their Somalian counterparts if we can set up a wireless connection and get them a computer.
  4. Shallow Wells. While drilling is unfeasible at the moment, we have the opportunity to dig some simple “shallow wells” that will collect rain water, fairly inexpensively.
  5. Connections. We want to send Ali to a gathering of top level leaders in Nairobi, Kenya in a couple of weeks, both for spiritual encouragement and also to make high level connections. (My friend who runs the U.N.’s World Food Program will be there for instance.)
  6. Surfing. Yes, you read that right, and I know it sounds crazy, but… two of my team members caught a vision for turning the hottest Big Wave surfing spot in the region — off the coast of Somalia — into an adventure surf tourism and economic development project. This is a BIG dream but has already caught the eye of some professional surfers who have (evidently) dreamed of surfing Somalia’s big waves. Surprising? Yes. But could be just the sort of dream that God could get behind. We think so!

We can actually do all of this for about $15,000. It won’t fix all of Somalia. It won’t solve the drought and famine. But it will literally save some lives and help a 100,000 or so people in the long run. We feel like this is the best and right place for us to start.

I don’t typically do projects. We work with and through and for people. Friends that Jesus has brought to us.  But Ali is just such a friend. (We’ve known him and his wife for many years — they were just with us in Dubai, which is where this all started.)  So this is a project but it’s through a God-given “man of peace”, our friend Ali.

We need to raise this money soon. Will you help? It’s simple to do. Just go to the donate page and follow the instructions. Be sure to note “Somalia” in the comments section, and/or a specific project you’d like to give toward.

Chris and I love you and love how you are always ready to pray and support the things and people God has put in front of us.

carl