Fill a truck day 6: Feeding Umi at Journey’s End

Follow the journey: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5

Our truck journey across Kenya reached its end on day six. The day we saw a little girl brought back to life.

Three months ago on 4 July, a small baby who was closer to being dead than alive was brought into this very same remote health clinic.

Her name was Umi, and she was three months old. She had been suffering from diarrhoea and malnutrition since she was a few days old and her terrified mother didn’t even think she would survive.

In a photograph taken that day in the hospital our team escorted them to, we can see Umi’s fragile human features threatening to give way as her withered skin shrunk around her tiny bones. The look on her mother’s face is one of fear and uncertainty.

Three months later, the baby we saw in that photograph is gone, but she is not dead.

Umi, back in July, and now, thanks to your donations

Umi is no longer an iconic image of hunger and drought; she is now a healthy, plump, and smiling six-month-old baby girl.

Umi survived, but thousands like her still face starvation
Help us save more lives – please donate now

We found Umi and her mother Halima at their home as our nutrition team was setting up a site to treat the village’s malnourished children.

Halima greeted us with a shy nod and a coy smile – giggling even, when we asked her how her daughter was doing.

So happy

“She’s grown so strong that I am even thinking of sending her out to do chores soon,” she said slyly, and then burst out laughing girlishly as our translator Omar explained to us that this was a small joke – a wry example of Somali wit.

It wasn’t hard to see why she felt like laughing and joking.

She laid Umi down on the mat inside their small dome hut, and the baby girl immediately started kicking her legs, waving her arms in the air, and cooing with pleasure at the small bit of freedom that any six-month-old baby enjoys.

Almost dying

“You know well that my daughter was so sick that day that she was almost dying,” says Halima, “so you can only imagine how unhappy and how sad I was as a mother.

“But today I have a healthy daughter and I’m so happy. You cannot even compare the joy I feel today to the sadness I felt three months ago –  it is just not comparable.”

When we stepped out of the low opening of the hut and out into the dry morning air, the hot light of the sun flashed into our faces.

Journey’s end

My vision turned white for a moment while my eyes adjusted to the sudden flash. Halima walked past me carrying Umi down a sandy path on her way to our team’s makeshift treatment centre.

It’s a small room constructed of stick walls with corrugated aluminium sheets laid across the top for a ceiling. Here, Umi’s was weighed and measured according to our nutrition team’s routine of updating her progress.

Then Hassan opened a box – one of the boxes that we have been following since it left the UK nearly a month ago – and pulled out a foil pack of thick and nourishing high-nutrient peanut paste.

The box from the UK is opened

He cut off a corner, squeezed a dollop out onto Halima’s finger, and Halima put her finger to Umi’s mouth.

Umi’s eyes opened wide as she gobbled down the sweet food behind her toothless gums. A tangible calm came over her as, over the course of the next half hour, she steadily swallowed the entire contents of the package.

Come back to life

Day after day for six weeks since she had been discharged from the hospital, this therapeutic food has been helping her gain weight, stay nourished, and come back to life.

Our team filled a bag with enough rations for another week as Halima sat holding and feeding her baby – a quiet joy passing between her and her daughter.

This was the moment we had travelled all the way across the country to witness, and this was the reason the food had travelled all the way across the world to be here.

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Comments

  • Hashini Galappaththi

    Colin,
    First of all thanking for you amazing work. I think its so important that we ´´open the eyes of the people´´who belongs to the fortunate percentage of the worlds population.
    Perhaps by opening their eyes we may open a bridge between these two worlds, a bridge that has a foundation in pure kindness and pure generosity, not in corruption or greed.
    In my opinion I don’t think the people in the ´´fortunate world´´ is informed well enough about the misery/ or the cruelty life has offered the people in the ´´unfortunate world´´
    Perhaps by organizing more creative events which attracts people from all ages and showing them the cruel truth that we should fight together once and for all.
    I just think it is our duty to take care of each other….especially those who cannot take care of them selves. I was just born fortunate, pure luck:)

    Keep up the good work , let me know if there is anything i can help out with
    Hashini

  • Jamal N. ADI

    You are really doing good and humanitarian job, keep it up

  • Sabina Njau

    I can only explain how it feels to go hungly for 3 days because, thats the longest period I have ever lacked food. I couldn’t walk. If that was so for a 3 days hunger I know its so much suffering for my dear brothers and sisters who go for weeks without food.

    Thank you very very much for the great work you are doing in East Africa. You are a great inspiration and encouragement to so many of us East Africans. you have brought life and hope to many. Thank you once again for giving hope where lost.
    Sabina, Nairobi-Kenya

  • doreen

    as a mother of 4 reading the story of the baby and her mother it brought tears to my eyes, keep up the good work what would they do with out people like you to help them

  • Louise Sharp

    God Bless all those still battling hunger and starvation, and all those who give their own time, effort and lives to help them overcome. Money is such a trite gift in comparison, yet one can never give enough when considering how much some suffer and how much some give to help.

  • Ismail Mohamed Abdi

    Thank you save the children for great work in helping vulnerable children around the world. ALLAH Bless all the staff of the save the children and generous donors who provide support to reach needy children in remote areas.
    Thank you again for your support.