By Briana McDonald
April marks the beginning of Ramadan, a month-long religious holiday observed by Muslims all over the world. Spiritual devotion, religious study and charitable giving are practiced throughout the holiest month in the Muslim calendar.
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Ambry Thomas is spending part of his offseason embracing Ramadan and giving back to impoverished communities throughout Somaliland, an African country that borders Ethiopia. Thomas traveled thousands of miles with charitable nonprofit organizations Mercy-USA and Muslims of the World to raise awareness about the heartbreaking living conditions in Somaliland.
Somaliland is currently experiencing one of their worst droughts in decades, leaving millions of people desperate for water. On Sunday, April 3, a massive fire erupted in the Waheen market, a major source of livelihood for residents in the capital of Somaliland. According to local officials, at least 28 people were wounded in the fire that destroyed property worth up to $2 billion.
Thomas has documented just how desperate the situation has gotten on social media, sharing his personal experience of the environmental conditions and the ruins of the Waheen market. He encourages his fans and followers to donate to the cause by matching $50 donations.
“It’s bigger than us,” said Thomas. “It’s about spreading your arms and helping others who need the help … Our brothers and sisters over here need our help right now.”
The NFL cornerback is working hand-in-hand alongside the charitable organizations, driving hours across the country delivering canteens that will provide up to 30 days of water for an entire family. According to Mercy-USA, their efforts have helped dig and repair over 750 wells in Somalia with over 750,000 people benefitting from their safe water program.
By spreading awareness on his social media platforms, Thomas has been able to reach 10,570 supporters to the Somaliland Water Relief campaign who have raised $526,867. Thomas has also gained the support of his 49ers teammates online, with Trey Lance, Talanoa Hufanga and George Kittle showing love to Thomas on his efforts in Somaliland.