Horn of Africa, 31 August 2011: At African Union pledge event, Ghanaian boy calls for urgent action on Horn of Africa crisis
By Wossen Mulatu
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, 31 August – On his first airplane flight, and his first trip outside of his native Ghana, Andrew Adansi-Bonnah, 11, arrived here with his father to give an inspirational speech at the African Union’s pledging conference. The event was held this week in support of more than 12 million people affected by drought in the Horn of Africa.
Although he was too small for the podium, Andrew stood tall before an audience of African leaders, high-level AU and United Nations delegates, ambassadors, journalists and guests who came together to lend a hand in response to the regional humanitarian crisis.
“It is with great joy to honour an invitation the AU sent to me,” said Andrew, who has embarked on his own fundraising campaign on behalf of Somali children affected by drought and conflict.
“For me,” he added, “it is the beginning of a new era of hope and future for African children, to be part of building the Africa we dream of.”
‘They really touched my heart’
As he entered the conference hall, Andrew captured the attention of many participants with his orange t-shirt, which read, ‘Save Somali Children from Hunger.’ Some instantly recognized him and shook his hand, congratulating him for his efforts.
“If I hadn’t seen the hope for Africa in Andrew, I wouldn’t have travelled this far,” said Kobla Asamani Mawuli, who accompanied Andrew to the conference. “The bravery I saw in him in initiating this project sends a signal to all African children.”
In an interview with UNICEF, Andrew said his vision to help children in Somalia started three years ago, when he saw BBC coverage of starving children in the Horn of Africa.
“I saw horrifying pictures of women and children, who are always the victims of conflict, wars and famine,” he recalled. “They really touched my heart, because without children and women, there is no hope.”
Andrew has already collected $4,000. In order to meet his ambitious, multi-million-dollar target, he plans to mobilize African singers to do a concert as soon as he gets back to Ghana. He said that he was getting help from friends and teachers at school – and that he refuses to stop until he meets his goal.
“We shouldn’t think about ourselves alone, but think about our brothers and sisters who are suffering,” Andrew said, noting that his peers worldwide “need to know how to help those in need, and they don’t have to expect anything back. God is going to bless them.”
To African leaders, Andrew said the focus must be not only on Somali children, but on all the children in need.
While he was in Addis, Andrew had the opportunity to meet with the UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia Ted Chaiban. He was also interviewed by the BBC, the Daily Telegraph, Turkish TV, Agence France-Presse and other local and international media outlets.
Horn of Africa emergency