Displaced Somali grandmother Sharifo Harun Mahdi, 70, was grateful to receive free treatment for malaria, along with her three sick grandchildren, by volunteer doctors.
They were among 113 people diagnosed and treated during a free medical camp carried out by doctors and medical students at Kaxarre IDP camp on the outskirts of Beletweyne.
“I have been given fever-reducing tablets. The children and I were all sick and in bed when the doctors visited us at the IDP camp. I shed tears of joy because we weren’t expecting it!” she exclaimed.
“We felt neglected and didn’t have money to go to hospital. We were even lacking money to buy food.”
advertisementsSharifo is raising four girls and a boy, whose mother died and whose jobless father is taking care of his own sick father at home in Bakool region. She provides for the children from laundry jobs earning at most $5 in a day.
They fled from Bakool six months ago when severe water shortage in the area killed her 80 goats. They hoped to get assistance in the IDP camps in Beletweyne.
“We were very sick when the doctors visited us. The first night I was overwhelmed by the medicine and I couldn’t sleep but the second night I fell deep asleep. The medicine has worked… we thank the doctors who visited and helped us.”
Ali Abdi Mohamed, another resident of Kaxarre camp, said the doctors treated his blind uncle for malaria and typhoid and two of his children. He could not afford to take them to private hospitals for treatment. One of the children had a wound on the leg that required stitches and the other had malnutrition and was given nutritional biscuits.
Kaxarre IDP camp, four kilometres from Beledweyne, has no health centre. Medical emergencies are challenging, especially when there are no vehicles around. Ali, a father of nine, said it was common to transport the sick on donkey carts to hospitals in Beletweyne. He himself had carried two patients on his donkey cart.
“We have taken a lot of people who fall sick to hospital. We carried on a donkey cart a young boy who was cut on his leg by an iron sheet at 9pm to a hospital in Nur-Hawad village,” he said.
“We have also transported a mother in labour on a donkey.”
Ali has been living in Kaxarre camp for seven months, since fleeing conflict in Shabelle zone of Ethiopia’s Somali region, where he owned an 11 hectare farm. He now provides for his family working as a labourer.
Dr Badal Ali Hanshi, the team leader of the volunteer doctors, said they plan to hold free week-long medical camps in each of five IDP sites in Beletweyne, where close to 1,000 IDP families live without health centres.
Kaxarre camp was established in January 2020 and is home to 230 IDP families.
Dr Badal and his team also gave a week’s training in first aid to 15 people in Kaxarre camp, three of whom were women. Funding for the project was raised by the 20 doctors and medical students from Ileys Institute for Health Development in Beledweyne.