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Famine donation deadline approaches

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Canada and its international aid organizations are asking Canadians to dig deep to help aid people in East Africa as the worst famine in six decades continues to take its terrible toll.

Canadians have donated $35.8 million so far to various agencies which qualify for government matching funds through Ottawa’s East Africa Drought Relief Fund. But that matching fund window is closing fast.

Donate by midnight Friday and the government will match your donation, dollar for dollar, doubling the impact of your money. (It’s important to know however that the charity you donate to will not get a matching donation from Ottawa, instead the same amount will go into the East Africa Drought Relief Fund and Ottawa will administer that fund as it sees fit.)

UNICEF estimates a child is dying of hunger every six minutes. That is 250 children every day. More than 13 million people are affected by multiple years of drought and the effect of ongoing conflicts.

The photos are heartbreaking. People are fleeing their homes looking for food. Refugee camps are overflowing.

Aid agencies are scrambling to help but don’t have the money they need to do all that is needed.

Save the Children Canada for example wants to provide help and programming for kids under five but so far can only afford to provide it to kids under three.

International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda has acknowledged concerns the funds are being diverted away from those who need it but said what that means is we just need to be smarter and more diligent about how the aid is distributed.

Not donating anything doesn’t help.

The political mess there can’t be ignored but the people in the refugee camps are not to be blamed. They are simply starving to death as a result.

In 2010, Canadians donated over $100 million to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Last fall we donated nearly $50 million to help people affected by major floods in Pakistan. Both were eligible to receive matching funds from Ottawa.

Canadians are generous and need to be generous again.

On the web: East Africa Drought Relief Fund

 

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About Mia Rabson

Mia Rabson is a born and bred Winnipegger whose interest in politics seemed clear when she dressed up as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for Halloween in the 7th grade.

Her interest in writing was no surprise to her parents, who learned early in Mia’s life that no piece of blank paper — or wall, for that matter — was safe in her hands.

She holds an honours BA in English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed a political journalism fellowship in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Centre for Politics and Journalism.

Prior to working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Mia briefly worked for the Detroit News in the paper’s Washington bureau.

Mia joined the Free Press team in February 2001, and in April 2001 was appointed to the Manitoba legislature bureau. In December 2004, she was appointed bureau chief at the legislature. She became the newspaper’s parliamentary bureau chief/national reporter in Ottawa in January 2008.

In 2008 she was nominated for a Michener Award with a team of reporters from the Free Press for its coverage of the province’s child welfare system.

She counts reliving the invasion at Dieppe, France, with veterans of the failed Second World War expedition and overcoming her fear of heights to touch the Golden Boy statue atop the Legislative Building among her favourite experiences as a reporter.

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