Provide Lifesaving Relief to Drought Victims

by International Medical Corps
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Provide Lifesaving Relief to Drought Victims
Provide Lifesaving Relief to Drought Victims
Provide Lifesaving Relief to Drought Victims
Provide Lifesaving Relief to Drought Victims
Provide Lifesaving Relief to Drought Victims
Provide Lifesaving Relief to Drought Victims
Provide Lifesaving Relief to Drought Victims
Provide Lifesaving Relief to Drought Victims
Provide Lifesaving Relief to Drought Victims
Provide Lifesaving Relief to Drought Victims
Provide Lifesaving Relief to Drought Victims
Provide Lifesaving Relief to Drought Victims
Provide Lifesaving Relief to Drought Victims
Abdi checks the health of a newborn
Abdi checks the health of a newborn

Cyclical drought has affected countries across East Africa for years. The lack of water has brought crop failure and wide-scale food insecurity for women, men, and children already struggling to survive. In response, International Medical Corps has provided nutrition, medicine, sanitation and other basic necessities to reach those most in need in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia. Below are a few of our past stories, about Abdi, a nurse in Somalia helping to treat and prevent water-borne diseases; infant Nina, malnourished because of lack of food; and Bekelech, who learned how to better use existing resources to support her family.

Abdi in Somalia: For more than 20 years, Abdi cared for Somalia’s sick as a nurse with International Medical Corps. Over the years, he responded to disease outbreaks in three different regions of the country and saved countless lives. Abdi’s commitment was critical as the people faced consecutive failed rains, combined with ongoing violence and instability, leaving millions of people in Somalia on the brink of famine in 2017. “My happiest moment . . . in responding to the drought in Somalia was when International Medical Corps established a new health center to provide healthcare to people in the displacement camps,” he said. “People living in the camps are exposed to contaminated water and food, which easily spreads acute watery diarrhea and cholera.” Our clinics treat and help prevent water-borne diseases as well as malnutrition in the camps, along with other primary healthcare services.

Nina in Kenya: One-year-old Nina was malnourished and underweight when her grandmother brought her to our nutrition program in Eldoro village in coastal Kenya. Nina weighed only 15.8 pounds – about 5 pounds less than the average one year-old in the United States. To make matters worse, Nina had contracted tuberculosis and developed a hernia. After 20 days in our program, Nina already weighed 18 pounds, a much healthier weight for a one-year-old baby. “I sincerely want to thank International Medical Corps for coming in time to rescue my grandchild," Nina’s grandmother said. “Were it not for International Medical Corps and the partners in this nutrition program, I would have lost my grandchild.”

Bekelech in Ethiopia: When Bekelech’s husband died, she was left with a small garden in southwestern Ethiopia, two cows, and five children to raise alone. Bekelech was forced to sell both cows so that her children could eat, and could no longer afford to send her children to school or buy seeds for her garden. “We were all hungry. I would collect firewood and sell charcoal with an empty stomach,” Bekelech recalled, referring to her only source of income. She found International Medical Corps’ livelihoods and resiliency program where she attended a training on integrated crop production and efficient farming practices. Soon afterwards, our resiliency program gave her three sheep and 200 kilograms of Irish potato seeds. Bekelech said, “We did not have proper food until I joined International Medical Corps’ Resilience Building Project.” The program also connected her with the Rural Savings and Credit Cooperative, a UN-funded initiative that helps farmers get small, low-interest loans to improve agricultural production. Within months, Bekelech’s potato crops were so successful that she was able to sell most of her produce at the market, feed her family, invest in her children’s education, and pay back the loan.

International Medical Corps thanks the GlobalGiving community for your support over the years, helping children like Nina, women like Bekelech, and our staff like Abdi. To keep supporting our programs, please visit: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/a-healthier-future-for-families-in-south-sudan/.

Nina and her grandmother
Nina and her grandmother
Bekelech and her older children with their animals
Bekelech and her older children with their animals
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Selamawit in Boloso Sore, Ethiopia
Selamawit in Boloso Sore, Ethiopia

The adolescence of a young woman unquestionably involves many challenges, but for one Ethiopian teenager—Selamawit—one such challenge stands above the rest: the struggle to find safe water. Her story is not an isolated instance, but is instead an example of what has become a disturbingly common issue when growing up in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia, Africa’s oldest independent nation and, to many, a symbol of liberty, is today affected by a lack of safe, accessible water. International Medical Corps’ recent water and sanitation activities in the affected town of Boloso Sore within Wolayita, a zone in south-central Ethiopia, have not only transformed the schools and communities in which they are based, but also the lives of individuals on a personal and profound level.

Selamawit, a 14-year-old from Boloso Sore, has not only been trying to gain an education and a future by attending school, but has already been helping provide for herself, her five siblings and her parents for half a decade. Living in one of the areas that the drought has hit the hardest, one of the most important, time-consuming and physically exhausting of her responsibilities involves finding water and carrying it back to her family for drinking, cooking and washing.

When we spoke to Selamawit about the situation, she told us about the challenges she also faced as a teenage girl lacking safe water for her personal hygiene. This had been a distressing issue for herself and her classmates before we provided safe water in her school.

This access to safe water has done more than provide a reliable water source; it has created a way for the girls to feel clean and comfortable—a way that they can retain their dignity. In this sense, the program has not only relieved Selamawit of concerns far beyond her years, but has enabled her "time to study and play with friends.”

Selamawit is just one of the thousands that International Medical Corps has reached with improved access to safe water in Wolayita, Ethiopia.

We thank you and the GlobalGiving community for your continued support.

Improving water systems in Ethiopia
Improving water systems in Ethiopia
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Three-week-old Mohamed
Three-week-old Mohamed

Like many young women in Somalia, 18-year old Anfa did not know that she needed regular check-ups to ensure that she and her baby were healthy, and only attended one ante-natal care session before the day of her delivery. When the day arrived, Anfa was at home with her mother, and started to experience intense convulsions. Only later would she learn that the convulsions were the first symptoms of eclampsia, a dangerous condition caused by high blood pressure in pregnant women, which can lead to coma and possible death.

As her symptoms worsened, Anfa’s mother rushed her to the nearby hospital, but unfortunately, the facility was un-equipped to manage her condition. The nurses quickly referred her to Ibado hospital, where International Medical Corps provides Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (CEmONC) to vulnerable internally displaced communities and refugees suffering from Somalia’s four-year long drought.

Anfa had lost consciousness by the time she arrived at the Ibado Hosptial, and doctors immediately determined that she would require an emergency caesarian section in order to save her life. The surgery lasted 90 minutes, and by the time Anfa regained consciousness three hours later, she found herself lying next to her first newborn son, Mohamed. Tears of happiness streamed down Anfa’s face as she celebrated the birth of her child with her mother and brother by her side.

“I am so grateful to the International Medical Corps nurses and doctors for saving my life and that of my baby,” she said.

Anfa and Mohamed stayed at the recovery ward for nine days after the surgery, where doctors monitored their health and provided her and other new mothers with guidance on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, the importance of handwashing and regular checkups, and how to support their children’s healthy development.

Three weeks after her delivery, an International Medical Corps team visited Anfa and found both her and Mohamed in good health. During the visit, Anfa emphasized the lesson she learned the hard way–how important it is for all mothers to receive regular checkups during their pregnancy and deliver at a hospital.

“Delivering at home is very risky and I wouldn’t encourage any mother to try that,” says Anfa. “Even if she lives far from the hospital, she should just find a way to deliver at a hospital because the doctors are well trained to conduct skilled deliveries and they will have access to critical services in the case of emergencies like mine.”

In addition to Mohamed, International Medical Corps has supported the safe delivery of over 5,400 children in Somalia since January 2018. Sadly, Somalia continues to face one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with 1 out of 12 women dying from pregnancy-related complications due to the county’s high fertility rates and a lack of adequate maternal health services. The current drought only exacerbates the medical situation.

Most women in the Anfa’s community in Abduwak still deliver at home, and spend the majority of the day fetching food and water to support their families, limiting their ability to seek out medical care.

As International Medical Corps remains on the ground in some of the most hard-to-reach areas of Somalia to improve access to much-needed emergency obstetric and neonatal healthcare, we thank the GlobalGiving community for their unwavering support. For more information about our work in Somalia please see https://internationalmedicalcorps.org/country/somalia/.

Anfa and her baby, Mohamed
Anfa and her baby, Mohamed
Our doctors performing the surgery
Our doctors performing the surgery
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Nadifu sits besides her shelter with her children
Nadifu sits besides her shelter with her children

Nadifu is a 35-year-old mother of seven living at an internally displaced person (IDP) camp in the Harhar village of Somalia’s Galkayo region. Along with her children, Nadifu lives in a temporary shelter amongst hundreds of other internally displaced people who have fled their homes due to the county’s severe drought. With most families living in scattered shelters made from sticks, twigs, and loose pieces of cloth, conditions at the IDP camp are dire and Nadifu has struggled to provide for the needs of her family.

“Living in the IDP camp has not been easy at all,” said Nadifu. “We lack latrines, clean water and food. We have poor shelter and inadequate health care. Last year, we lost many lives to cholera and acute watery diarrhea,” Nadifu added.

Nadifu first fled her home in the Mudug region of Somalia in 2016 after two consecutive seasons of failed rainfalls wiped out her livestock, forcing her to travel to Galkayo in search of food and clean water for her children. Settling in Harhar village almost a year ago, Nadifu and her children now call the IDP camp home, despite the many challenges they face living there.  

International Medical Corps has been responding to the El-Nino induced drought in Somalia since it first began in 2015, and today provides integrated nutrition treatment, primary health care, and water, sanitation and hygiene services to drought-affected populations across four regions of the country to help ensure that vulnerable IDPs have access to essential health care services. With the increases in cholera and other water-borne diseases at IDP camps due to poor sanitation conditions and a lack of clean water, International Medical Corps is rehabilitating community wells, constructing sanitation infrastructure such as pit latrines, and providing clean water through emergency trucking.

To help stop the spread of disease in vulnerable communities in Galkayo, International Medical Corps has built more than 30 ventilated improvised pit latrines amongst the 15 IDP camps of Harhar village to serve vulnerable individuals like Nadifu. To further support the health of families in the region, International Medical Corps is also spreading awareness of important health and hygiene topics to ensure that individuals have knowledge of the health risks facing their communities and the steps they can take to avoid them. For those like Nadifu, it is this education that she is most appreciate of.

“What I like most about International Medical Corps is the education we get from the team. We get trainings about hygiene, breastfeeding and other healthy practices. As a mother, I am always worried about the health of my children. I have to do what it takes to keep them free from diseases—and International Medical Corps helps me do just that.”

We thank the GlobalGiving community for their continued support of International Medical Corps as we serve drought-affected populations across Central and East Africa and Yemen with lifesaving health care services.

Three pit latrines at a Harhar village IDP camp
Three pit latrines at a Harhar village IDP camp
Nadifu's sons stand behind makeshift camp fencing
Nadifu's sons stand behind makeshift camp fencing
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Sahara holds her newborn, Fatima
Sahara holds her newborn, Fatima

On the morning of December 29th, 2017, residents of the Km13 internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Mogadishu awoke to a distinct and chilling noise—the hum of bulldozer engines. By the time the engines stopped two days later, the homes of over 4,000 IDP families had been destroyed, as well as the schools, community centers, water points, and small businesses they relied on to subsist and survive. Km13 had been demolished, its residents evicted by force.

For Sahara, a 30-year-old mother of eight living at the camp, the sudden eviction became an emergency, and a matter of life and death. She was only days away from giving birth to her ninth child when the demolition teams arrived, and without receiving any prior notice of the eviction, she had little time to find shelter and prepare for her delivery. Complications during her last pregnancy made her especially worried.

“In my last delivery I lost a lot of blood after I delivered,” she said, “and now that I am pregnant again and at term, I fear for the outcome of my pregnancy.”

Fortunately, Sahara was able to find shelter at a temporary IDP center set up at a nearby school and when she went into labor, neighbors rushed her to International Medical Corps’ Kaxda Health Center for delivery. On January 8th, Sahara successfully gave birth to her third daughter, Fatima. As with her last pregnancy, Sahara experienced postpartum bleeding after the delivery, but this time, we were able to manage the bleeding with Misoprostol tablets, a drug that we keep readily available at the Kaxda facility.

International Medical Corps established the Kaxda Health Center to serve vulnerable IDPs like Sahara living in the Kaxda district on the western outskirts of Mogadishu, which houses over 11,000 internally displaced Somalis escaping drought and conflict across the country. In addition to providing basic emergency obstetric and neonatal services, we screen children and women for malnutrition, distribute hygiene kits, and spread awareness of health and hygiene services in camp communities to ensure that IDPs have access to adequate health care. With the increase in caseload from the recent evictions, our teams are providing an average of 710 consultations per week with 34% of the patients being children under five years old.

Before Sahara returned home, we provided her with important lessons on infant and young child feeding practices and gave Fatima her first vaccine doses. Under our care, Sahara breastfed Fatima within an hour of birth, a practice that can help improve a newborn’s chance of survival. Upon leaving the health center, Sahara voiced her appreciation for the Kaxda staff. “With your help and support many lives are being saved daily. Thank you and may God bless you all.”

We thank all of you in the GlobalGiving community for your support as we help to provide vulnerable displaced Somalis living in Mogadishu with lifesaving healthcare services.

Our nurse speaks with women at Kaxda Health Center
Our nurse speaks with women at Kaxda Health Center
An IDP camp in Kaxda District, Mogadishu
An IDP camp in Kaxda District, Mogadishu
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International Medical Corps

Location: Los Angeles, CA - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Davis Nordeen
Los Angeles, CA United States

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