Sami Yusuf Keynote speaker at DIHAD2012

Posted on April 17th, 2012

I would like to thank DIHAD for inviting me to be a part to this prestigious event that has gained respect and support over the years through its monumentaal efforts and commendable achievements…

Sami Yusuf
DIHAD speech
2 April 2012

Your Excellencies,
Distinguished guests, members of the humanitarian community,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to thank DIHAD for inviting me to be a part to this prestigious event that has gained respect and support over the years through its monumental efforts and commendable achievements. I would also like to thank the United Nations World Food Programme for lending their unwavering support to our joint initiative called LiveFeed. Together we have and we continue to highlight the plight of the drought-hit populations in the Horn of Africa as we continue our fight against hunger.

I can’t tell you how much admiration I have for what you do, as aid workers and facilitators, and how much I can relate to the hope and passion most of you nurture through their daily jobs. It is not only a must for anyone with a little bit of conscious and concern, but also such a thrill, such a blessing, to have the ability to make a difference in the lives of those in need. And the good news is that this opportunity is offered to each and every one of us, at our respective levels. It just feels so good and so right to care, as one people sharing the same, simple aspiration of a safe and happy future. As an artist, I have always strived to utilize my music and reach to open minds, open hearts and ultimately serve humanitarian causes in a universal spirit of responsibility and solidarity. I am a dreamer. I dream of a word free of poverty and hunger, and the more I invest time and engage people in this dream, the more I learn and realize, through my work with WFP, that solutions exist and that my dream could actually become reality. “Hunger is the world’s biggest solvable problem” and we can all do something about it, be part of the solution, whoever and wherever we are.

The theme of this event is especially attractive to me because I am a firm believer in the fact that you, today’s youth, will carry the torch of hope into tomorrow.   “The role and importance of youth in humanitarian assistance and development activities” is imperative; it’s vital.  

I urge you, youth, to use your creativity. Be ambitious. Innovate.  You do not need to be old or rich or in the field to make a difference.  You just need to utilize the gifts you have and put them into action.  

When I saw the painful images that emerged from the Horn of Africa and Somalia I was so moved and knew I had to do something.  That’s when I wrote my single “Forgotten Promises” and launched the LiveFeed campaign with WFP.  Knowing that millions of people are unable to acquire the food that they need, that mothers and children are going to sleep hungry, and that with a different turn of fate it could be me and my family in those pictures I felt the need and the duty to do take action.  All proceeds from “Forgotten Promises” go directly to WFP to feed hungry people in Somalia and the Horn of Africa.  With each song downloaded and each album purchased, you provide direct food assistance to at least 2 people suffering from hunger. That’s why LiveFeed appeals to me; because it is tangible, creative, and effective.

As part of the human family, as global citizens, we have a moral and social responsibility to help one another.  Youth can engage in campaigns like LiveFeed through social media, Facebook and Twitter, through campaigns at your schools and universities, or simply by word of mouth.

You can and must start your own initiatives.  You don’t need an advertising agency and a media budget to spread your message and mobilize people against hunger. Seek knowledge about humanitarian issues like hunger from WFP’s website, share it, and fundraise.  The solutions to humanitarian issues need money to be implemented, so your ultimate objective should always be to encourage people to donate whatever they can.  As little as 50 U.S. cents can enable the World Food Programme to feed one person for one day in the Horn of Africa. It costs US$50 to feed a schoolgirl for one whole year; similar to the cost of one iPod shuffle (US$45).

Too many people simply don’t know that 1 in 7 people goes to bed hungry each night, or that every 6 seconds a child dies from hunger.  The good news though is that hunger is the world’s greatest solvable problem and that people like me and you can make these facts known.  Together, we can fight hunger worldwide.

A world free of hunger is possible. If we all join forces, we can make it happen.

Thank you.

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