By Abdi Mohamud
The global pandemic, since it started in the first quarter of 2019, has shaken governments, corporations, and individuals to the core. It almost brought all activities to a standstill. Many plans were abandoned, others were adjusted to suit the circumstances, and operations were scaled down. New thinking, approaches, and strategies geared towards surviving the pandemic were crafted and implemented. Global pharmaceutical giants and other research institutions doubled their efforts to produce effective vaccines in a timely manner. Some entities succeeded in making breakthroughs within a short time. They ramped up production and averted a looming danger that would have otherwise caused death on an unprecedented scale.
As a result, humanity has been able to cope with the negative and painful impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The struggle is still ongoing but there is less dread and fear now. There is a great deal of confidence and hope that the worst will be behind us soon. This is possible due to the ingenuity, courage, and collective efforts by the global community.
Like any other organization, The Global Somali Diaspora (GSD) was also affected by COVID-19. As expected, it had to adjust its plans to meet new challenges associated with the pandemic. GSD was still at the time a young organization with limited resources and capabilities in terms of expertise, financial assets, as well as sound administrative and operational strength. The main highlight of GSD’s activities prior to the pandemic had been its annual conference, which lasted a few days and took place in foreign capitals. People would gather and have discussions on relevant issues concerning Somalis.
Many attended to socialize and catch up with friends. Since the conferences had not produced any meaningful programs that had affected people’s lives positively, I believe, many attendees were driven by desire to enjoy the company and camaraderie of friends, which had significance and meaning for them. Things would stay quiet until the next conference where the same process would be followed and the same activities would be done. Then, COVID-19 appeared unexpectedly and threw everything into disarray. Travel and human movements were limited and this made it impossible for GSD to physically hold its yearly gatherings. GSD was forced to utilize remote communications to carry out its activities, which may have been executed inefficiently especially since the organization is still at its embryonic stage.
Information available suggests that GSD has no structure or organizational hierarchy. It has no financial resources that would make it possible for it to run as a functioning entity. It has no offices and no regular, paid employees who conduct the day-to-day business of the organization. In this situation, it will be difficult for GSD to be a viable body that can accomplish anything meaningful that would benefit the Somali diaspora communities it claims to represent.
There is no doubt that Somalis in the diaspora need an organization with a global reach and scope that looks after their interests and wellbeing. These communities scatter around the globe and they need to have the means and ability to stay connected with one another in order to keep their identity and cultural heritage. An organization of that nature is essential because there are lots of injustices and marginalization often subjected to minority communities around the world.
In that light, it is inevitable to reorganize, reenergize and reinvent GSD. To achieve this goal, there must be an organizational structure with clearly defined goals that are practical and attainable. An effective governing board has to be created. Call it a super board. This board will then help the creation of many other smaller boards in cities around the world. The smaller boards, although under the supervision of the super board, should be autonomous, have their own bylaws and maintain a high degree of independence. Yet they have to adhere to the super board’s laws and policies. GSD also needs to have financial resources that will enable it to function and implement programs that meet the needs of the communities it serves.
A website must be created through which people can donate the amount of money they wish to give. Fundraising events should be held in as many places as possible. Such events should be yearly events. Whatever strategies deemed useful should be adopted and incorporated into the organization’s policies and programs. To achieve success, there must be creativity, efficiency, honesty and hardwork.
GSD has to move quickly because there is a great deal of work that has to be done. People in many communities, especially the youth, are yearning for leadership. If you travel or try to understand their situations, you will see that the success rate of Somali boys in the diaspora is unsatisfactory. Many of them show no interest in education and set foot on a path that would not lead to success. They resort to activities that are harmful and undesirable. They often have run-ins with the law and end up in jail. Their life and future are damaged in so many ways that a high percentage of them may never live a normal life with fulfillment.
The situation is dire in many places particularly in Europe and North America. There is urgency that demands leadership, effort and action. There is a void that needs to be filled in and GSD with new mandate, momentum and determination, I believe, is well-suited to address this urgency. We will not achieve much if we remain disorganized and fragmented. We need to band together, pool resources and do what matters. It is in everyone’s interest to be part of energy, vision and unity because that is the only way forward.
GSD should build a strong bond among the diaspora communities that enables them to overcome current challenges as well as those that will come in the future. It has to leave a solid foundation and legacy that will outlast the test of time. This can be achieved if we recognize that the survival and future of this generation as well as many others that will follow depends on the actions we take today and the choices we make.
After ISRAAC, this is the second big name organization formed by Somalis in the diaspora. ISRAAC was not a community-oriented organization. Its members were individuals, mostly educated, well off, and well-connected who were trying to influence domestic policies in Somalia. It was never meant, to my knowledge, to serve or advance the interests of the diaspora communities. Finally, it died a natural death because there was no meaningful plan or commitment.
HORUSOCOD should not suffer the same fate as ISRAAC did. That is not an option.
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