International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Hope and care for Farhio

Edward Macharia works for the International Rescue Committee at the Dadaab refugee camp complex in Kenya, where the IRC is aiding hundreds of thousands of people who have fled Somalia, a country devastated by conflict and the worst drought in six decades

I met 10-month-old Farhio Abdi Madey the day after she was admitted to the IRC’s ward for severely malnourished children in Hagadera, one of five refugee camps in the Dadaab complex. She was extremely weak and malnourished, weighing less than seven pounds. “At her age, Farhio should weigh about 20 pounds,” said my colleague, Sirat Amin, an IRC nutrition manager, who is in charge of the ward. “Her legs are so thin that they don’t have the strength to support her.”  
When she was admitted, Farhio had a fever, cough and diarrhea. She was  put on antibiotics and an intensive feeding regime of therapeutic milk. “We are monitoring her around the clock and hope that our staff’s quick intervention will result in a full recovery,” Amin said.  
IRC nutrition nurse Sirat Amin with Farhio

IRC nutrition manager Sirat Amin with Farhio in the children's ward. 
(Photo: Edward Macharia/IRC)


The ward is a hive of activity with medical staff coming and going and parents caring for their children. Currently, 36 children are being treated in the ward, although it was built to accommodate only 20. The overflow is being treated in tents located just outside the ward.
Despite their fear and the hardship and pain of their situation, mothers and fathers manage to share light moments with one another, their jokes and laughter buoying the mood and cheering up the children. The ward itself is filled with light and is decorated with bright drawings of animals.

Farhio is being looked after by her grandmother, Sangayo Noor Abdi, a talkative, cheerful woman who never leaves her granddaughter’s side. Farhio’s father is dead and her mother is herself too sick to care for her child. The family survived a 25-day trek from Kismayo, a coastal city in southeast Somalia, to bring Farhio to Dadaab. They lost their livestock to the drought, forcing them to join the thousands of other Somalis who have fled to Dadaab.  

Grandma Sangayo takes baby Farhio outside for some fresh air.

Grandma Sangayo takes Farhio outside for some fresh air.
(Photo: Edward Macharia/IRC)

In recent months Dadaab, which is home to nearly half a million refugees, has seen a sharp rise in bomb attacks—likely a spillover from the fierce fighting in neighboring Somalia—and the kidnapping of aid workers. This has made it harder for the IRC and other aid groups to deliver food and other humanitarian assistance. 
As a result, families have had to stretch their food rations and more children are suffering from malnutrition. The lack of food in the camp where she was living is the main reason Farhio was rushed to the IRC ward. 
I look forward to finding Farhio in better health when I return to Hagadera in a few weeks. I know that Sirat Amin and his colleagues at the IRC ward are doing the best they can for Farhio and all the children under their care.


You are doing a great job. I

You are doing a great job. I hope Farhio and the other children under your care get well.

IRC is doing a great job,

IRC is doing a great job, thanks for caring.... I pray that Farhio get better and he will be a very good testimony to IRC and believe it will give a very good example....

Thanks to the hard working

Thanks to the hard working team out there and hope you continue your humanitarian work.

Although the stories and

Although the stories and photos are heart wrenching, until family planning support is part of IRC's work, it all seems so overwhelming and without conclusion. Ever. The numbers are impossible. I honor you for your dedication, but encourage a more comprehensive look at making a lasting difference.