Aid agency Concern Worldwide has heaped praise on the Irish public after it helped save the life of a starving five-year-old girl in war-ravaged Somalia through generous donations.
Yasmiin Hassan – one of 1.1 million Somalis forced to flee their homes due to conflict - was suffering from severe acute malnutrition and weighed the same as an average two-year-old when she was brought to a Concern nutrition centre on the outskirts of Mogadishu on March 15, 2017.
Her condition was so bad, her mother, Aamiina, believed she would suffer the same fate as one of her brothers, who sadly died with similar symptoms at a time when they had no access to a health clinic.
However, after 12 weeks of treatment, Yasmiin made a full recovery and Concern’s health and nutrition team maintain contact with her to ensure she remains healthy.
“Life and joy returned to her eyes,” said Concern’s Regional Director for the Horn of Africa, Carol Morgan.
“She increased her weight from 12.4kg to a healthier 16.7kg – and measurements of her left upper arm also confirmed an improvement to her health.
“It brings immense joy to the staff when you see the recovery of children we care for like Yasmiin. The staff know they saved that child’s life.
“Her smile is a great relief just weeks after being in such an emaciated state. It is truly heart breaking to see any child malnourished.
“You see an emptiness and loss of happiness in their eyes. They stare ahead at nothing, not focusing on anything. They don’t play and have no energy – so it is such a relief to see them recover.”
Carol and her team praised the Irish public for donating over €1.5 million to Concern’s East Africa Appeal in 2017 – which helped fund a greater response to the ongoing food crisis in the region.
The appeal, which involved the use of those first images of Yasmiin, followed the severe drought across East Africa, which left an estimated 20 million people facing starvation.
“You can see from the photograph taken that day just how badly malnourished and ill she was and the new photograph, which was taken when Yasmiin dropped in for a check-up, shows her back to full health, proving even more that aid works,” said Concern’s Hashim Jelle, who treated Yasmiin and who continues to treat tens of thousands of children in Somalia.
Yasmiin’s mother, Aamiina, who has seven children, said she is “very thankful” to the Irish public and to Concern for the “kind support” her family are receiving.
Concern photographer, Kieran McConville, who took the first photographs of Yasmiin when she was malnourished, described his delight on hearing she had made a full recovery.
“At a time when the people of Somalia are dealing with so much darkness, this is a glimmer of light,” he said.
Concern treated 53,425 children aged from birth to five for malnutrition in Mogadishu and the Lower Shabelle regions of Somalia between January and October, 2017.
The aid agency said the number of children it reached in the country in 2017 was three times higher than the amount of children reached in 2016.
Concern provides children with nutritious nut paste and offers medical checks for diseases like malaria with doctors and nurses.
Concern also thanked Irish Aid and other institutional donors like the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations and the British government’s Department for International Development for supporting their life-saving programmes in Somalia.