You would never know it by just looking at her, but Madina Mohamed is beating the odds. The mother and grandmother has survived insecurity, conflict, forced displacement, and more – but she is still managing to find fulfillment.
Two years ago, violence in Tieglow, the village she had called home all her life, forced her to flee to a displacement camp in Hudur, a district in southwestern Somalia.
“When an armed group attacked our village, I was only able to flee with three of my children, including my youngest, who was just two weeks old,” says Madina. “I had to leave behind four children, and I still do not know the whereabouts of two of my children.”
Madina fled with others from her village, most of whom had come under attack and were forced to leave family members, belongings, and livelihoods behind. Action Against Hunger has been on the frontlines of this area of Somalia, providing lifesaving assistance to displaced communities covering a wide range of services, including nutrition, health, food security, livelihood development, water, sanitation, and hygiene.
“To be a mother in a conflict zone puts you in a very complicated state,” says Madina, whose husband was killed in a raid on their village. Now the sole caretaker for her children, she has worked hard to adapt to her new life. “You are grateful to have some of your children nearby, but always think of the other children you had to leave behind. It’s not an easy task.”
When Madina first met the team at Action Against Hunger’s Maternal and Child Health Center in Hudur, they noticed her enthusiasm right away. Seeing her passion for the wellbeing of children – particularly when it came to nutrition and health – they encouraged Madina to become a champion against hunger.
Madina is one of 1,500 mothers in the area trained by Action Against Hunger to use a simple tape to measure the mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) of children under five years old: a key tool for detecting malnutrition. Now, every Wednesday, Madina sits her youngest child and two young grandchildren to check their nutrition status. (See what a typical Wednesday is like for Madina here.)
“When I get the chance to go back to my village, I will make it my business to deal with cases of malnutrition and to educate women on the importance of good health and hygiene,” she says.
The health center also hosts mother-to-mother support groups, which Madina participates in. Here, moms of all ages gather to share their experiences with pregnancy and motherhood and to learn about healthy practices like breastfeeding, handwashing, and more.
“The support group has been a key activity for me at the center, and it has played a major role in my healing process,” Madina says. “After experiencing conflict and living in a displacement camp for a year, sharing my story with other mothers in the group has been a great part of my journey.”
Madina’s youngest son, Abdinasir, is now two years old. When they first arrived at the displacement camp from Tieglow, he suffered from severe acute malnutrition – a case so serious that Madina feared for his life. Thankfully, he recovered and, today, he lives a happy and healthy life.
“I believe that knowledge is power,” says Madina. “I am grateful for the support from Action Against Hunger community health workers, who constantly teach mothers different ways of dealing with malnutrition because it is a major problem in the community.”
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