Somalia: A Mother’s Quest to Save Her Child

21 December 2016

Somalia: A Mother’s Quest to Save Her Child

Ayan carried her baby boy out of the sunlight and into a health clinic in south-central Somalia. The baby, Adan, was crying and restless; she looked tired and dejected. “My son has been sick for a long time,” she said, holding the thin, weak boy in her arms. “I am worried I might lose him.”

At first, Ayan told us, she had believed that only prayers would heal her child, but his condition only got worse. A relative of Ayan told her about the health facilities supported by Medair, which offer services at no cost. She advised Ayan to travel to town so that Adan could be treated.

Yet her neighbours warned her not to go. They feared the health facility and cautioned her not to trust the people there. “They scolded me,” said Ayan. “They told me I would come back with a dead child.” 

A big part of Medair’s work in Somalia is to work with community volunteers to break down these kinds of negative attitudes towards health providers and clinics, because such attitudes undermine the health of children and vulnerable people.

Thankfully, Ayan refused to listen. She travelled for seven hours from her village to reach the Medair-supported clinic. “I was welcomed warmly,” she recalled. “The nurse asked about my child’s illness. I was told Adan was sick because he had not been eating well. I was given medicine and told to come back the next day.”

That night, Ayan slept at her relative’s house in the town, and her boy slept well for the first time in a long time. The next day, Ayan returned to the clinic, where her child was given nutritious food. “He started to eat the food slowly, with difficulty,” she said. “He had not been eating solid food before.”

Lack of food is a serious problem for families in Somalia. Drought and persistent conflict have led to poor harvests and instability.  An estimated five million people are currently in need of food; Ayan and Adan are just two of them. 

After two months of nutrition treatment, her son recovered and they were able to return home. Yet in their village, there was little food or water for them, and soon Adan was ill again. Back to the clinic they went, and when he recovered yet again, Ayan decided to move to a nearby displacement camp instead of returning to her village. “I prefer to live in the camp,” she said. “In my village, there is no food or water, but in the camp you only have to worry about food.”

Ayan is thankful for all the help she has received for her child. At the camp, she occasionally finds work at a local market to earn money to help feed her family, but clearly, the road ahead will not be easy for them, or for so many others in Somalia.

Please consider a gift for mothers like Ayan and their children in Somalia today. They need your help to survive this crisis. 

Medair supports five health facilities, including 24/7 maternity services, and does community outreach to improve health, nutrition, and hygiene in South Central Somalia. In communities where cholera is a threat, we distribute water filters to the most vulnerable families.

Medair’s work in Somalia is made possible by the support of Dorcas Aid Intl (NL), TEAR (AU), US Agency for International Development, Ferster Foundation (CH), Fondation Resurgens (CH), and generous private donors.

This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarter staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.

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