Ghana schoolboy launches solo famine fundraiser

As international aid agencies scramble for donations for East Africa’s famine victims, one multimillion-dollar fundraising drive has come from an unexpected source: a West African schoolboy.

Andrew Adansi-Bonnah is 11. And during his eight-week school holiday, he wants to raise 20 million Ghanaian cedis (R93m) for his cause by walking office to office collecting donations in Ghana’s capital, Accra.

Since starting the drive on August 1, he has collected about $6 500 (R46 978) in pledges for the fund he started after consulting with Unicef and the UN’s World Food Programme. His father, schoolteacher Samuel Adansi-Bonnah, donated his entire July salary of about $500.

Andrew said he was inspired by the images of skeletal babies and stick-thin children he saw on television, which led him to name his campaign Save Somali Children from Hunger. “There are hungry people in Ghana but our situation is not as desperate as the people of Somalia.”

The UN estimates that more than 12 million people across East Africa need food aid because of a long-running drought that has sent more than 100 000 people fleeing to refugee camps. Somalia has been hit the hardest. US officials estimate the famine has killed 29 000 children in the past three months.

The UN has yet to raise half of the $2.4 billion it has requested from donor countries. The UN said the famine was expected to spread to all regions of southern Somalia in the next four to six weeks unless more aid could be delivered.

The African Union has also urged African nations and private citizens to donate, and will hold a pledging conference later in August.

Andrew said he was confident he could raise all of the money.

Ghanaians on average earn $2 500 a year, compared with Somalia’s average yearly income of $600, according to 2010 CIA estimates.

His father said Andrew’s interest in the cause surprised him. “I even wondered why a child of his age should be concerned about people far away from him,” he said.

Andrew is an energetic fundraiser. He said he had made several attempts to draw attention to his cause, including a TV appearance and media interviews that had made him a minor celebrity in Ghana. He also said he had tried – but failed – to make it on to a reality show to use the platform to raise money and awareness. – Sapa-AP

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