When seven-month-old Minhaj Gedi Farah was admitted to the International Rescue Committee’s hospital in the Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya in July 2011, he was dying.
Images of Minhaj’s emaciated little body were shown in media throughout the world. He came to signify the plight of thousands of refugee children fleeing famine-devastated Somalia.
Weighing just 3.1 kilograms (6.83 pounds), Minhaj was not only suffering from malnourishment but was severely anemic. It was touch-and-go as to whether the baby would survive—his family had given up all hope.
After three life-saving blood transfusions and intensive feeding with Plumpy’nut, a vitamin-enriched peanut paste, Minhaj reached 4.1kgs (9.03 pounds) and was released from the hospital. He was then treated for tuberculosis in an IRC outpatient program.
Less than three months after he was released, Minhaj was unrecognizable. His mother, Assiyah Dagane Osman, brought the plump-cheeked baby back to the hospital’s malnutrition unit to visit the IRC doctors and nurses who had saved his life. She was overjoyed and extremely grateful.
“I am very happy with the treatment he received,” she told them. “He is doing very well.”
As Dr. Humphrey Musyoka and head nurse-nutritionist Sirat Amin examined him, Minhaj giggled and laughed, clearly enjoying all the attention he was receiving. At nearly 8 kilograms (17.64 pounds), Minhaj’s weight was almost normal for a little boy his age.
“We can’t express how we felt when we saw him again,” Sirat said. “We saw a completely different child.”
On the brink of famine
Some 30 million people across Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen are currently at risk of starvation. Learn how the IRC is ramping up our lifesaving response.