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Here’s How You Can Help These African Countries In the Wake of Recent Natural Disasters

Here’s a comprehensive list of relief efforts to support the African nations that have been affected by natural disasters this month.

Last month, catastrophic natural disasters across Africa have killed hundreds and displaced thousands. Severe flooding has plagued parts of Sierra Leone, Niger, Nigeria, and DR Congo, and these consecutive tragedies reportedly killed 25 times more people than Hurricane Harvey did.

While relief and rescue efforts and hefty celebrity donations in Houston have been able to quell calamity, support survivors, and save lives, the death toll in these African nations continues to rise. Hurricane Harvey killed 50 people, while torrential rainstorms and mudslides in Africa left at least 1,240 dead and over 100,000 displaced—where damages are exacerbated and the tragedies are propelled by years of poor infrastructure, underdeveloped weather monitoring and drainage systems.

In the face of overseas tragedies, people far-removed from sites where natural disasters strike often feel helpless. Whether it's lack of news coverage or lack of resources on how to assist, helplessness prevails when distance is in play. Prominent organizations like the American Red Cross have suspicious track records—in black and brown and impoverished nations especially—and the public trust in charities has waned because of it, spawning a vested interest in more direct, on-the-grounds efforts.

Here’s a comprehensive list of reputable and trusted charities and relief efforts to support the African nations that have been affected by natural disasters this month.

Freetown, Sierra Leone

Three days of intense torrential rains resulted in a mudslide toppling the Regent community in Freetown, Sierra Leone on August 14. It’s been deemed the nation’s most devastating natural disaster in recent years, destroying homes, burying locals, and killing more than 1,000 people while leaving another 600 or so people missing.

  • Global Giving’s Sierra Leone Mudslide Relief Fund sets out to raise $500,000 to aid survivors with food, water, medicine, and other emergency supplies in addition to longer-term recovery assistance. All donations to this fund are said to exclusively support local relief and flood recovery efforts.

The crowdfunding platform states that the long-term impact of this fund has “the potential to build stronger response capacity so that these organizations are better equipped to face future challenges.”

The Washington, D.C.-based organization provides an extensive breakdown of charity details, efforts, and expenses here, and vows to post reports about how funds have been used for the public, for donors, for and subscribers.

Kamara founded Heart Shaped Hands in 2012 to provide scholarships to students in his home country to help offset the cost of education in a direct effort.

The organization states that all donations made through the month of August are set to be matched by Kei Kamara.

  • StreetChild  has launched an emergency flood relief appeal, pledging 100 percent of all donations to be spent immediately on the ground for food, shelter and water. The organization also plans to focus on ensuring that affected children are able to restart school at the start of the school year in September.

The UK charity was established in 2008, and has reportedly helped provide educational opportunities to over 60,000 children across Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Liberia.

  • Salesian Missions set up an emergency camp to provide food, clothes, medical care on the ground in Sierra Leone. Their mudslide relief fund is for immediate support.

Benue, Nigeria

More than 100,000 were forced to flee their homes following massive flooding in the central state of Benue, Nigeria. Close to 3,000 homes have been submerged, leaving thousands of locals homeless. The exact death toll is unknown.

Here are some relief efforts to support Nigeria’s flood survivors:

  • Mission to Makurdi based in Abuja, Nigeria is currently using its Adopt-A-Camp initiative to lead a team of volunteers and medical practitioners to communities affected by recent floods. They are seeking to distribute food, clothes bedding, and housing materials. Their medical outreach effort sets out to provide basic Malaria and blood pressure medical tests, dispensing of drugs, and supply of mosquito nets alongside Benue SEMA (State Emergency Management Agency).
  • LEADBenue in collaboration with Community Links Human Empowerment Initiative is accepting bank account donations and on the grounds donations in Nigeria.
  • Sesor is a Nigerian non-profit that has worked to support survivors of emergencies and internally displaced people since 2009. Sesor also supports nigerian community-building through support for businesses, children’s education, and policy reform within local, state and national governments.

Jidenna has advocated for direct donations to both LEADBenue and Sesor’s relief efforts.

Both Sterling Bank and Lagos-based digital agency Anakle have pledged to donate 50 Naira for every retweet they receive to the Benue flood fund. Sterling Bank says it will now match contributions, amounting to a total of 3,544,300 for relief efforts.

Niamey, Niger

During the last week of August, authorities in Niger’s capital ordered thousands of locals to leave their homes because of serious flooding. In May, the UN warned that 106,000 people in the country would be at risk. Roads have been ruined, buildings have been destroyed, livestock lost, and since the start of rainy season in June, 40 people in Niger have died.

Sources have disclosed that relief efforts in Niger have been informal and organized on the local level. OkayAfrica will be following up on Niger as information becomes available for what can be done overseas. Check back for more information on how you can help.

Photos
"The Astral." Photo by Mikael Owunna.

This Photo Series Is a Much-Needed Counter to Violent Images of the Black Body

"Infinite Essence" is Nigerian-American photographer Mikael Owunna's response to the one-dimensional narrative we tend to see of the black body.

This beautiful, thought-provoking photo series affirms what we already know—that the black body is magical, no matter what odds are against us.

Nigerian-American photographer, Mikael Owunna, touched base with OkayAfrica to share his new photo series, Infinite Essence. The series is Owunna's response to America's issue of police brutality, like the murders of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile and Walter Scott, and the viral and violent images of the dead black body we've seen as a result.

"It has become frighteningly routine to turn on the television or log onto Facebook and see a video or image of a black person either dead or dying, like images of Africans dying in the Mediterranean," Owunna says.

"With this series, I work to counter these one-dimensional narratives of the black body as a site of death and destruction with imagery capturing what I see in my friends, family and community—love, joy, and ultimately, magic."

Owunna worked on Infinite Essence for the past year, and says his creative process began with a feeling. As he notes further, it's was a process of trial and error.

"I was beginning to explore my own spirituality and journey and learning about how black, queer and trans people in particular were respected for their magical abilities in many pre-colonial African societies. I was meditating on this idea of magic and how I can capture that in my work, harkening back to the 'Final Fantasy' video games and anime series I grew up on. How could I capture all of this? I did two pretty disastrous test shoots using long exposures and lights, that did nothing for me artistically.

It had none of the feeling I was looking for. So I went back to the drawing board. I pulled up Google image search results of magic in Final Fantasy and kept scrolling and scrolling and staring at images that had that emotional tug, that spiritual capture of magic and transcendence that I so wanted to bring into the work. As I was staring at the works, a voice in my head told me glow in the dark paints, and then from looking at that I found the world of UV photography. As soon as I saw some sample works in that space, I knew that was the direction the project would go and it was all steam ahead."

Shooting this series was the first time Owunna collaborated with makeup artists Karla Grifith-Burns and Davone Goins to bring his vision to life. "It was powerful and inspirational and brought so much structure to my feeling and thought," he says.

Owunna settled on the name of his series after reading about Odinani, the Igbo traditional belief system.

"Seeking to understand the basics of that, I came across brilliant writing by Chinua Achebe wherein he used the phrase 'infinite essence' and that clicked everything around it," he says. "When I can name something, it brings it to life in my head in stunning color."

Click through the slideshow below view Owunna's series, Infinite Essence. Read his artist statement for the project, where he speaks more in depth of Achebe's work on infinite essence here. The series is also on display at Owunna's solo exhibition at Montréal's Never Apart Gallery from today until April 7, 2018.

"The Astral." Photo by Mikael Owunna.

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