NFL free-agent Colin Kaepernick is putting his time in career limbo to good use. This week the quarterback successfully urged Turkish Airlines to send a plane full of food and water to Somalia, as the East African nation prepares for a drought that could impact more than 6 million people.
Kaepernick posted a video on Instagram, where he has 1.5 million followers, to ask the airline to use one of its vessels for philanthropic purposes, and take part in the #TurkishAirlinesHelpSomalia campaign. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback was joined by other celebrities in the effort, including actor Ben Stiller. Initiator and YouTube star Jerome Jarre's goal is to send the plane off with 60 tons of food.
"As the only airline that connects Somalia to the world, we'll be more than happy to deliver your love and assistance to Somalia on your behalf," a Turkish Airlines pilot said in a video released in response to the campaign.
Somalia is currently experiencing a severe drought that has already led to the deaths of 110 people in the span of two days. The drought is also devastating crops and livestock, leading to fears of widespread famine that endangers more than half of the country’s population, according to United Nations officials.
About 258,000 people in Somalia died due to famine between 2010 and 2012, including 133,000 children under the age of five. U.N. Humanitarian Chief Stephen O'Brien has called the broader famine risk facing 20 million people in four countries—Somalia, northeast Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen—the largest humanitarian crisis since 1945. He hopes to "avert a catastrophe" by obtaining billions for aid. Complicating matters is the rise of terror and warfare in these nations, which at times leads to the diverting of humanitarian aid to those who do not need it the most.
Kaepernick, who sparked a national conversation last year about racism and patriotism by refusing to stand for the pledge of allegiance, took to his Instagram account after Turkish Airlines’ decision to tell supporters of the campaign to donate so that the humanitarian aid could be bought.