International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Minhaj, the “Face of Famine,” now a chubby, playful toddler [New Photos]

Last summer, tens of thousands of Somali refugees fled famine, drought and conflict in their own country, crossing the border to seek refuge in Dadaab, Kenya’s largest refugee complex. Hungry and exhausted, many died along the way. Children arrived severely malnourished. The International Rescue Committee’s medical team was at the forefront of saving their lives. 

One such child, seven-month-old Minhaj Gedi Farah, caught the attention of the world as “the face of the famine.”  When he arrived at the IRC’s special ward for malnourished children, he weighed only 3.1 kgs (6.83 lbs) and suffered from related medical complications. With round-the-clock intensive care and nutritional treatment, Minhaj rapidly improved. By the time he was released from the ward, he weighed 4.1 kgs (9.03,lbs) and was out of danger.
Minhaj and his mother at Hagardera Hospital for a checkup

A playful Minhaj, with his mother, at the IRC hospital for a checkup, July 2012.

(Photo: Lizzy Ongoro/IRC)

IRC staff kept in touch with Minhaj and his family—his parents and six older brothers— who remain at the Dadaab camp. Three months after he was released, Minhaj looked like a different child, weighing 8 kgs (17.64 lbs). Today he is the picture of health, at 11.6 kgs (25.6 lbs) well within the normal weight of an 18 month old. 
 
His mother, Assiyah Dagane Osman, is overjoyed at her son’s progress. "I am a happy mother,” she says. “Since Minhaj left the hospital last year, he has never fallen ill. I am coming from a life full of so much despondency to a life of hope and expectation. I am thankful to the IRC family and everybody who took part in ensuring that my child is where he is today.” 
 
Sirat Amin, the IRC’s nutrition manager in Dadaab, led the team who cared for Minhaj. “I am glad to see that Minhaj, who was clinging to life by a thread, is now healthy and active,” says Amin.
 
Minhaj is held by IRC nutrition manager Sirat Amin as his mother looks on

Minhaj is held by IRC nutrition manager Sirat Amin as his mother looks on, Dadaab refugee camp complex, July 2012

(Photo: Lizzy Ongoro/IRC)

Caring for children

Right now in Dadaab, there are 731 children under age five being treated by the IRC for severe acute malnutrition. More than 3,450 children within this age group suffer from moderate acute malnutrition and are being treated at the IRC’s supplementary feeding centers. Since the drought crisis began one year ago, the nutrition status of children aged six months to 10 years has slightly improved. 
 

Emergency funds running dry

The IRC and six other international aid organizations are warning that a critical shortage of funds is putting tens of thousands of lives at risk in Kenya's Dabaab refugee camp, the world’s largest. Read their statement.>>
 

Support the IRC's drought response

The IRC is assisting people who are still suffering after the worst drought to hit the Horn and East Africa in 60 years. We need your help. Donate Now.>>

Reporting for this story contributed by Lizzy Ongoro

3 comments

Comments

Awsome piece of

Awsome piece of work,irc....conttinue the good work.

You people do wonderful work

You people do wonderful work and the difference in the two pictures of Minhaj is nothing short of a miracle. Keep doing the great work to help people that are suffering.

Great work done. Thanks to

Great work done. Thanks to IRC

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