A Minneapolis-based relief group is working with Somali-Americans in Minnesota to launch a new aid program in their East African homeland.
Neighbors for Nations is a new effort by the American Refugee Committee to help internally displaced people in war-torn Somalia.
Yusuf Ali of Roseville is among a council of local Somali-Americans who have been advisors to the project. Ali said a lot of refugees feel like victims in their new country, as if they're not in control of their lives. But he said this partnership has shown how they're becoming part of the solution in their homeland.
"The energy I can feel — people are getting empowered: 'you know what, we can actually make a difference. I don't have to just send $100 to my mom. I can create systems where people have empowered themselves. We can be a force of good,'" Ali said.
The move by the American Refugee Committee is a bold move. Many of the foreign-aid groups are based out of neighboring Kenya because they view Somalia as too dangerous.