Police officer plans fundraiser for Somalia.

Halkaan ka akhri

Const. Abdulkadir Abdi, a community policing officer for the Ottawa police, is reaching out to Ottawans in an effort to provide aid to his native Somalia.

With the help of friends Joelle Drouin and Const. Monique Paquette, as well as the Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, Abdi will host a gala dinner at the Villa Marconi Centre at 1026 Baseline Rd. on March 1.

Abdi said he wanted to make Canadians aware that the crisis in Somalia isn’t over and there is a lot we can do to help.

The country in East Africa has had disaster after disaster for the last 21 years since the central government collapsed.

Last year, a drought killed livestock and farm lands, causing malnutrition and large-scale death. While the famine has been officially declared at its end, according to the United Nations, there are still millions needing emergency rations to survive.

“It affects a lot of people living in Ottawa because they might have friends or family still back in Somalia,” Abdi said. “We need to create awareness. We can’t forget to keep Somalia in our hearts and minds.”

Baird will be the keynote speaker on March 1 and Paquette will be talking about her efforts to build schools in Somalia.

Ottawa police Chief Vern White will also be in attendance and is expected to be a senator by then. Abdi said he was pleased with the support from Ottawa police officers.

Tickets to the dinner are $120 for an individual ticket, or $1,200 for a table of 10.

Festivities are set to begin with cocktails at 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.anewdawnsomalia.ca.

“People are also welcome to donate to the cause even if they can’t make it to the dinner,” Abdi said.

The money will go to MSF Canada/Doctors without Borders and Somalia Hope Academy, which works to build schools in the wartorn country.

Abdi said organizers are still looking for local businesses to donate audtion items, but he is encouraged by the support the community has shown so far.

“We have had an artist in Edmonton offer to come and he will bring some paintings,” Abdi said, adding that 50 per cent of the sale of the paintings will go to the causes.

A Somalia television network out of Toronto will be on hand to tape the whole night.

“We have been so lucky,” he said. “I know there are many events going on in Ottawa this time of year and it means so much that people are willing to help out.”

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