Tuesday, April 10, 2012
The deputy mayor of Somalia's war-battered capital is making the rounds in Minnesota, imploring local Somali-Americans to help reconstruct Mogadishu.
Ali Ahmed Gure is promoting a program called "Bring Mogadishu Back." He's asking members of the Somali diaspora to adopt infrastructure projects in his city.
Somali-American community organizer Hindia Ali said Minnesotans will form a committee and decide which projects -- such as hospitals, streets, or schools -- deserve funding for reconstruction. Then a private company will handle the work. Somali communities in London and Toronto are signing on, she says.
"It's like an adopt-a-highway kind of thing," Ali said.
Gure spoke Saturday at a community gathering at Safari Restaurant in Minneapolis, and he'll return tonight for a memorial service honoring the victims of a ghastly suicide bombing last week at the National Theatre in Mogadishu. At least six people, including two top sports officials, were killed.Twelve more were killed days later in a market bombing in Baidoa.
Despite two decades of destruction and the recent series of bombings, the New York Times reported last week that Mogadishu is making a comeback. The terror group al-Shabab retreated from the city in August.
And there are other signs of hope and normalcy, as construction crews build hospitals, homes, and shops.
Gure, the deputy mayor, also visited yesterday with the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak tweeted he had a "fascinating" discussion with Gure.
Rybak's spokesman, John Stiles, said the two officials talked about "moving young people toward hope," both here and in Somalia. They also kicked around ideas on how Somali-American entrepreneurs might boost the economy in their homeland, by helping set up businesses and sharing their knowledge there.