Halima Mohammed: Role Model in Her Refugee Camp
Editor's Note: This post comes to us from Hussein Ibrahim, a Nutrition Officer for Action Against Hunger in Dadaab, Kenya. Our thanks to Ibrahim, and to 1,000 Days, a consortium of NGOs dedicated to maximizing a child's critical nutrition window from conception to the 2nd birthday and one of which we're proud to be a part. 1,000 Days is featuring this post as part of its special March for Nutrition campaign, taking place this month.
Halima Mohammed is a mother of six children, and an active member of a Mother to Mother Support Group (MtMSG) established by Action Against Hunger in Kambioos refugee camp, in Dadaab, Kenya. The camp is the newest among the five camps in Dadaab. Almost all refugees in this particular camp entered Kenya from Somalia during the Horn of Africa drought crisis in 2011.
Halima is from the Hawraarsame clan in Somalia, who culturally practice feeding infants water and sugar solutions immediately after birth and breastfeeding on only one breast. As mandated by her culture, Halima breastfed all her five of her older children on one breast and gave them a sugar solution at birth. She breastfed her babies on the right breast, fearing they would develop diarrhea and die if breastfed on the left one. She further believed that colostrum was spoiled milk and chose not to feed any of her children colostrum in the first three days after birth.
When Halima and her husband Abdirahaman Mohammed arrived in Kambioos refugee camp in late 2012, three of their children were immediately admitted to the outpatient therapeutic program as they were severely malnourished.
Halima was pregnant and anemic, and was therefore admitted to the blanket supplementary feeding program. In Kambioos, the health and nutrition programs are run by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), while Action Against Hunger supports these programs by implementing a Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN) program.
She enrolled in the MtMSG in Section D Block D3 of Kambioos camp to learn more about appropriate infant and young child feeding. In the group, she met other mothers who shared their experiences on breastfeeding.
At nine months, she gave birth to a baby girl, Safwa, and exclusively breastfed her for six months, and on both breasts.
“I no longer spend a lot of money buying medicine to treat sick children,” she remarks with relief and satisfaction written clearly across her face.
Action Against Hunger implements the MIYCN Program in Dadaab through funding from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).