Yussuf Abshir Osman, a seven year old boy lives in Kabasa IDP Centre. He is the firth born in a family of eight. His mother, Hindiya Ali Samatar, a single mother, like many others in this camp live in small tent with six of her families and struggles to make ends meet and take care of the family. Yussuf is a polio victim for three years now. His father was killed in a clandestine war in Somalia exactly 18 months ago.
Two of Yussuf eldest sisters dropped school before formal education made an impact on them and are now married; maybe to reduce burden and weight on their mother’s hard task of taking care of relatively huge family. In Somalia, having many children is translated as increased taskforce at household level and a single family can have as many as eleven children. Two of his elder brothers are in primary at a local school run by community and local fragile administration. A young girl at school going age stays at home learning and helping her family in house course in preparation of her future family; one her elder sisters was married off at the age of 14 and two youngest boys are too weak to attend classes. Their skin looking pale, a translation of malnutrition.
Yussuf has lost his ability of walking at a tender age. While his colleagues attend classes and play around, he is tied to staying in an old tent which has now become his world. His mother has shelved all her hopes on him after all her efforts of herbal cure turned futile. Kabasa is an IDP Centre in Dollow district, the biggest of its kind in Gedo region, Southern Somalia. It has no proper functioning public hospital. In few cases, private individuals with little knowledge and training on human health and medical background run unprecedented health kiosks with untrained staffs putting the health of many at risk. Many like Hindiya also do not have the financial capacity to afford treatments at those private hospitals. With decades of civil war and complete breakdown of political and economic structures, the federal government of Somalia lacks the capacity to perform check and balance.
The camp is home to 2000 households (about 12,000 persons) most of them victims of civil war that has brought the country to its knees for more than two decades and the rest lost their animals to the 2011 extreme famine that has killed about 260,000 people in the horn of Africa country. The IDPs have many of their basic needs unattended to. They lack basic necessities such as proper health care service, access to clean and safe water and reliable education putting many children at risk. Like Yussuf, number of young hopeful children has their hopes hanging of the rope and their walking abilities impaired.
Somalia has the second worst rate of Polio vaccination in the world after Equatorial Guinea with the latest case reported in Hobyo district, Mudug region of August 11th 2015. In a country where Polio virus have taken a foothold since 2013, Somali Aid is making remarkable efforts to grantee a polio free population. In Bardere, El-wak, Dollow and Belet-Hawo districts, Gedo region, Southern Somalia, Somali Aid is implementing a life-saving Polio project. In our ongoing program, we have in the last 13 months reached about 22,600 children under the age 15 in the four districts. 5600 children in each districts were vaccinated against the virus in a routine immunization, 264 community health volunteers and WHO district polio officers trained and 546 key community stakeholders sensitized on community awareness on polio eradication. Somali Aid has also established a strong coordination with various stakeholders including the WHO, UNICEF, Local administration and other key health actors in Southern Somalia Gedo region.
Somali Aid field staffs visited Yussuf Abshir November this year, provided crunches to him and placed him on physiotherapy program. His walking abilities have quiet improved and he now walks around with his crunches, attend classes and join his colleagues in short walks.
Every child deserves a chance to walk, learn and play around. Polio is preventable, help a child walk on his feet.