VOICES FROM THE FIELDTHE IRC BLOG
A Somali mother dies so her children can live
July 21, 2011 by Sophia Jones-Mwangi
|After his wife died during the trek from drought-sticken Somalia, Abdallah Ibrahim Jare (right) continued on with his children to a refugee camp in neighboring Kenya. His youngest, Aden, sits with his grandmother -- the IRC treated the three-year-old for severe malnutrition. Photo: Sophia Jones-Mwangi/IRC|
When Abdallah Ibrahim Jare, his wife Ishan and their four young children set out on foot on the 25-day trek from their home in Somalia to Kenya, Abdallah had no idea of the nightmare that lay ahead of him. Fifteen days into their journey, 30-year-old Ishan died.
“She was hungry,” Abdallah said. “She was giving her food to the children.”
Abdallah buried Ishan with the help of other people who were walking with them from their drought-ravaged homeland to find food and shelter in a refugee camp. He decided to continue on. “It was very painful,” he said, “one of the most difficult and painful times in my life.”
Abdallah set out once again, confused and worried about how he was going to raise the children on his own. “I’m still worried about the little ones,” he said.
Abdallah’s younger children have not asked about their mother, but his oldest daughter does ask about her. Abdallah says that Ishan was not sick before they left Somalia. “If she had enough food and medicine she would not have died,” he explained.
An IRC health worker measures the upper arms of Abdallah's children as he checks for signs of severe malnourishment. (Photo: Sophia Jones-Mwangi/IRC)
I first met Abdallah on the outskirts of the Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya, where most of the refugee families from Somalia are settling. I was with a team of International Rescue Committee community health workers who are carrying out a mass malnutrition screening of all children under five who arrive in the camp.
As Abdallah talked with us, the team leader, Dr. Milhia Kader, noticed that his youngest child, Aden, was extremely malnourished. The three-year-old was vomiting and had diarrhea. She immediately called for an ambulance to take him to the hospital. There, he was admitted to the IRC’s unit for severely malnourished children where he was immediately given special vitamin-enriched milk.
Knowing that his little boy is in good hands means one less worry for a father who has struggled so much for his family’s survival.
Abdallah feeds Aden special vitamin-enriched milk in the IRC's
unit for severely malnourished children.
(Photo: Sophia Jones-Mwangi/IRC)
The IRC is scaling up relief efforts to aid people devastated by the drought — the worst in 60 years — that is ravaging much of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. Your emergency donation will help provide relief to those hardest hit.
Donate now and support our urgent relief efforts
July 22, 2011 - This post has been revised to reflect the following correction: Abdallah Ibrahim Jare's son Aden is three years old, not one.