Edmonton Somali Community Gathering to Aid Relatives of Ethiopian Plane Crash Victims

A steady stream of members of the city’s Somali community are bringing food, household help and emotional support to the family of a mother and daughter who died in an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash.

Aden Mohamed, chairman of the Ogaden Somali Community of Alberta Residents (OSCAR), said 33-year-old mother Amina Odowa attended many of the organization’s events with her three daughters before her sudden death on Sunday.

“She was the connection point of the family,” Mohamed said.

Odowa and her middle child, five-year-old kindergarten student Sofiya Abdulbakir, were among 157 people who perished when Ethiopia Airlines Flight 302 crashed six minutes after takeoff south of Addis Ababa. Eighteen Canadians are among the victims.

A single mother, Odowa had been working as a driver, Mohamed said. She supported her mother and daughters, ages 3, 5 and 7, he said.

Friends met in Kenyan refugee camp

Mohamed has known Odowa since she was 10 years old. Both refugees who fled a civil war in Somalia in the 1990s, they met in the Ifo refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya, he said. Their time there overlapped by about six years before Odowa came to Canada as a United Nations refugee. Mohamed followed in 2009.

Odowa was travelling to Kenya this week to visit friends and family, he said.

“She was very talented,” Mohamed said. “Very energetic. Very social. I’ve never seen Amina get mad or upset, really. She was a very friendly person. She was a woman that wanted to depend on her own strength, and her own efforts.”

Odowa was outgoing, confident and patient, he said.

“She was a very free-minded person.”

Since they learned of the tragedy, a steady stream of supporters has been visiting Odowa’s mother and two surviving daughters to offer solidarity and help, Mohamed said.

“It’s shocking. They are trying to cope afterwards,” he said. “The young ones, are not much aware, but the mom is. She understands the situation. She was expecting a lovely daughter coming back … and then she had this.”

He did not know the family’s plans for any funerals.

Supporters are also planning a meeting to prepare for the family’s longer-term needs, he said. They will step in as much as they can to ensure the children are looked after, he said.

At Lorelei School in north Edmonton, where Sofiya was in kindergarten, social workers and psychologists are in the building this week to help students, staff and families affected by the tragedy, an Edmonton Public Schools spokeswoman said Monday.

All of the 149 passengers and eight crew on board Ethiopia Airlines flight 302 en route to Nairobi, Kenya, died Sunday when the Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed. It is the second fatal crash involving the plane within five months, which has prompted Canada’s transportation minister to review the aircraft’s use.

Source: Edmonton Journal

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