Irish public praised for saving the life of starving five-year-old girl

The Irish public is being praised for saving the life of a starving five-year-old girl in war-ravaged Somalia.

Aid agency Concern Worldwide said "generous donations" from the Irish public saved Yasmiin Hassan from death.

Yasmiin, one of 1.1m 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 in March.

Her mother, Aamiina, believed she would suffer the same fate as one of her brothers who also died of similar symptoms in a time when they had no access to a clinic.

After 12 weeks of treatment, Yasmiin made a full recovery.

“Life and joy returned to her eyes,” said Concern’s Regional Director for the Horn of Africa, Carol Morgan.

Concern maintains contact with her to ensure she remains healthy.

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.”

Yasmiin and her mother when she arrived at the clinic and three months later.

Yasmiin's mother and father are both suffering from TB. Currently, their health situation is improving after taking TB treatment.

Yasmiin is currently not attending school, but rather helping her mother with domestic work because the mother is the family breadwinner and depends on casual work.

Aamiina and Concern thanked the Irish public for their donations.

She also thanked the charity for their "kind support" of her family.

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.

The Irish public gave €1.5m to East Africa Appeal, saving the lives of Yasmiin and more than 53,000 others.

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.

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 this year.

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.

Concern Worldwide is an international non-governmental humanitarian organisation dedicated to the reduction of suffering and working towards the ultimate elimination of extreme poverty in the world's poorest countries.

The public can receive regular updates online through the Concern Worldwide website, and follow Concern Worldwide on Twitter.

KEYWORDS: Somalia, Charity, Concern


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