It Takes a Village

Just after sunrise, Keynan Aliow was walking to work when he heard the piercing cry of an infant in distress.

As he continued on, the sound only grew louder. Keynan peered around in the early morning light. Where was the cry coming from? Then he saw, but couldn’t believe his eyes. A tiny infant was lying on the roadside, all alone.

“Is anyone there?” he shouted. To his great astonishment, no one replied. He carried the wailing baby to a neighbouring house. “Did you see anyone leave this baby on the side of the road?” Keynan asked.

Everyone shook their heads, stunned. More neighbours heard the commotion and joined them. No one knew where they baby had come from.

Not knowing what else to do, Keynan took the newborn boy with him to work. He asked a neighbour, a mother named Farxiyo, if she would care for the child. She embraced the boy warmly. They named him Abdikadir Keynan Aliow.

After four months, Farxiyo got a job in the city and had to return the baby to Keynan. Again he looked for a mother who would take care of the child. He found Anisa, who agreed to take Abdikadir. She took him to the bush (badia) where he could be given camel milk, because she thought that would help him grow.

However, Abdikadir fell sick in the badia and lost a lot of weight. During a routine house-to-house visit, a Medair Care Group volunteer named Malyun saw baby Abdikadir for the first time. Concerned by his appearance, Malyun assessed the boy for malnutrition and referred him to a Medair-supported health centre, run by local partner Dawa.

Anisa took baby Abdikar to the health centre the same day. Nurse Firdowsa remembers them well.


The child looked severely wasted. He was diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition and admitted to the nutrition programme.

Abdikar was immediately started on Plumpy’nut, a therapeutic nutritional food for malnourished children. Anisa was counselled on nutrition and good feeding habits and the baby was released for at home care with regular follow-ups at the health centre.

Anisa had to return to the badia, but she knew that if Abdikadir was to recover, he would need to stay close to the clinic. And so Keynan gave Abidkadir into the care of a third mother, this one a housekeeper at the health centre called Mama Abdiya.

Thanks to Abdiya’s loving care and the nutrition treatment that he received from Medair, Abdikadir’s weight nearly doubled.


“What’s beautiful to me,” says Dr Marian Wetshay-van der Snoek, Somalia Country Director, “is that after living through more than 20 years of crisis, so many Somalians are still willing to make huge personal sacrifices to care for an abandoned child.”


You can help more children like Abdikadir recover from severe malnutrition in Somalia. Make a gift today.

In Somalia, Medair runs a comprehensive malnutrition treatment programme that saves the lives of young children and vulnerable mothers. Care Group volunteers regularly visit families in their community, screen for malnutrition, and encourage good health and nutrition practices.