Since the early 1990s, Somalia has been embroiled in a civil war with constantly shifting lines and a chaotic mix of actors, including the Somali government, various opposition groups, clan-based militias, the United Nations, African Union troops, and extremist organizations. This war has crossed borders and affected all of Somalia’s neighbors.
Between 2007 and 2014, al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliated extremist group, seized control of large portions of East Africa in an attempt to institute a conservative sharia state on the Horn of Africa. As they gained territory, violently repressed their opposition, and enforced their will, al-Shabaab created wide-scale humanitarian and refugee crises while simultaneously denying services to local populations and access to relief organizations in the areas they controlled.
Today, African Union troops, with the advice and assistance of US Forces, have retaken much of the territory al-Shabaab once controlled, but regional governments still struggle to reach their people and build legitimacy with the skeptical clans and leaders that traditionally wield power in the region. Providing tangible benefits to the people and building relationships between the government and their citizens is essential to creating lasting peace and stability in the region.
One US Army civil affairs team working in the region identified eye-care and vision as a key way to engage the local population and bring significant and sustainable change to people’s lives. Spirit of America, working with an incredible and generous partner, Adlens, who has provided glasses at a greatly reduced price, would like to support the efforts of this team. By providing eyeglasses that can be easily adjusted to fill the prescriptions for a range of vision problems SoA can give the team a fast and flexible way to help bring positive change to the Horn of Africa.
Some of the SoA provided glasses will be given to partner military forces working to combat al-Shabaab. Like those provided to the local people, these glasses will directly contribute to dramatic improvements in quality of life and increased ability to perform even routine tasks. Several sample pairs were provided to test this concept. One was given to a Colonel working on the staff of a partner force. This officer had never before had glasses and his vision was so poor that he could not use a computer, greatly reducing his ability to do his job. Upon receiving the Adlens glasses he remarked, “I am blessed, I must admit. It’s like a microscope, I can see.”
These are the types of results, that, with your support, we can replicate for both our military partners and for those living in previously al-Shabaab affected areas.
Hello, Today, I’d like to update you about a recent Spirit of America effort to support a US Civil Affairs team in East Africa. SoA provided much-needed adjustable eyeglasses to be distributed across former al-Shabaab affected areas of East Africa. This effort was made possible by Adlens, who generously provided the glasses to SoA at … Continued
Dear supporters, I’m happy to start the new year by sharing some good news with you. Recently, I worked with a US Army team to provide adjustable eyeglasses to needy youth. The team executed this project in an area formerly affected by al-Shabaab, a violent extremist organization allied with al-Qaeda that is responsible for numerous … Continued