Since a bombing killed 358 people in the Somali capital of Mogadishu October 14, members of Columbus' Somali community have been working to deliver aid. Local fundraising efforts over the last five days raised more than $13,000.
About a hundred people gathered Sunday night at a center in North Linden, where attendees sipped Somali tea and ate samosas as a procession of speakers took their turn behind the mic.
The event went late into the night, as the room filled with people in their early 20s. Many wore a red band around their head as a sign of unity.
Fatma Ismal is a recent college graduate and part of a larger group called The Somali Youth Movement. In the last week, the group has helped organize a car wash, and members have gone door-to-door collecting donations.
Ismal says that as one of the largest Somali-American communities in the county, people here have been quick to respond to the Mogadishu bombing.
“We all probably have someone back home that’s affected by this so this is something we all came together for,” Ismal says.
It's still unknown who committed the terror attack, the deadliest in the country's history. But for young Somalis like herself, Ismal says this has been a wakeup call for the community to work together.
Ismal says many of Sunday's speakers are community elders. Some were even members of the country's former government before the civil war.
One of those elders is Hassan Omar, president of the Somali Community Association of Ohio. Omar helped to oversee many of their fundraising efforts, including Sunday's event.
He says the Central Ohio community is experienced in raising funds for aid back home.
“When there was a drought in Somalia they raised $130,000 in Columbus,” Omar says. “We're hoping here in Columbus we’ll be able to raise about $200,000.”
He says Somalis around the world are working together to raise funds to support the victims of the attack and their families. A Somali-owned business even offered to wire donations free of charge.
All proceeds will go to a relief fund overseen by the Somali government.