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Health and care in Somalia

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Health challenges abound in Somalia due to conflict and famine, but your support is helping Tearfund’s partner Medair set up Care Groups – putting transformative health and care within reach for families raising children in these tough conditions.

As a parent, it’s one thing to watch your child’s health weaken. But to not have the knowledge or resources to alleviate their suffering is another level of torment altogether. Iqro spent her early years of motherhood watching her three children battle life-threatening malnutrition and diarrhoea. But when her fourth baby was born, she was armed with new understanding, new strategies and a new community of support – and her newest arrival quickly became her healthiest!

“Now my child is 19 months old and he is the healthiest and the strongest among my children. He has not suffered from diarrhoea,” Iqro shared.

This exciting transformation came as a result of Iqro connecting with the leader of a local Care Group. With volunteer leaders trained by Tearfund’s partner Medair, Care Groups build safe spaces for women to share, learn and be equipped to respond to health issues in their households. The Care Group leader encouraged Iqro to exclusively breastfeed her new baby, and regularly attend a health clinic, meaning that her youngest child got a better start to life than his siblings. And the friendship and education Iqro received through the group has certainly made life so much better for her and her children.

“I am now an ambassador because I also teach any mother who delivers [a baby] in the neighbourhood to exclusively breastfeed their children,” Iqro says.

Now my child is 19 months old and he is the healthiest and the strongest among my children.

Iqro, Somalian mother

A recent survey by Medair found that through Care Groups, an increased proportion of women are accessing support during pregnancy and are applying stronger hygiene practices. The role of these groups in limiting disease outbreaks has also been recognised.

Care Groups not only improve community resilience, it’s been found that they contribute indirectly to other household development. Women report that because they spend less time dealing with ill-health, they have more time to pursue work opportunities or fulfil other roles in the community.

An impressive network of empowered people is spreading throughout vulnerable communities in Somalia. With Medair’s support, around 1,100 volunteers are currently active in educating families – including those in internal displacement camps – about better health practices.

With your support and Medair’s influence, the love of God is at work in the strengthening of local relationships based on acts of genuine care for each other. This means the next generation of Somalis stand to gain better health and so much more.

Why your support matters

Thanks to your gifts, Tearfund supports one partner in Somalia (Medair) and another partner in Ethiopia who serves displaced people from Somalia. These long-term partnerships have been encouragingly fruitful over several decades of devastation in Somalia. Conflict, instability and consecutive seasons of low or no rain have impacted every area of life, and more than 2 million people live under very basic conditions in Internally Displaced People camps. But thousands of people are being met with opportunities to improve their health, nutrition and livelihoods as Tearfund’s partners operate in these vulnerable contexts.

A growing network of community volunteers has been mobilised to share life-saving resources and education in their neighbourhoods, meaning that more and more people are experiencing hope and restoration, wherever they are.

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Related projects have received support from the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).