The Face of the Famine: Baby Minhaj, Before and After

by  Sophia Jones-Mwangi, International Rescue Committee 


Left: Baby Minhaj Gedi Farah, one week after he arrived at the IRC hospital emaciated and at the brink of death. Right: A chubby-cheeked and playful Minhaj three months after leaving the hospital. Photo: (L) Peter Biro/IRC (R) Photo: IRC

DADAAB, Kenya - When seven-month-old  Minhaj Gedi Farah was admitted to the International Rescue Committee’s hospital in the Dadaab refugee complex in July, he was dying.

Minhaj’s emaciated little body was shown in media throughout the world. He came to signify the plight of thousands of refugee children fleeing  famine-devastated Somalia.

Weighing just 3.1 kilograms (6.83 pounds), Minhaj was not only suffering from malnourishment but was severely anemic.  It was touch and go as to whether the baby would survive — his family had given up all hope.
After three life-saving blood transfusions and intensive feeding with Plumpy’nut, a vitamin-enriched peanut paste, Minhaj reached 4.1kgs (9.03 pounds) and was released from the hospital. He was then treated for tuberculosis in an IRC outpatient program.
Today, three months after he was released, Minhaj is unrecognizable. His mother, Assiyah Dagane Osman, recently brought the plump-cheeked baby back to the hospital’s malnutrition unit to visit the IRC doctors and nurses who had saved his life. She was overjoyed and extremely grateful. “I am very happy with the treatment he received,” she told them. “He is doing very well.”
As Dr. Humphrey Musyoka and head nurse-nutritionist Sirat Amin examined him, Minhaj giggled and laughed, clearly enjoying all the attention he was receiving.   At nearly 8 kilograms (17.64 pounds), Minhaj’s weight was almost normal for a little boy his age.
“We can’t express how we felt when we saw him again,” Sirat said. “We saw a completely different child.”
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