August 16, 2011
In Carolyn’s last blog we met Ibrahim, a man living in Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. Ibrahim and his wife help care for many of the children in the camp, including six of their own.
Ibrahim leads us into a tiny mud and stick room, swept clean and bare. On a thin mattress covered with a simple cloth sits a small teenager holding a beautiful baby. Her name is Isnino and she is 16. Her baby Habibo is small but alert and looks healthy.
Carolyn sits with Isnino Adan and her two-month old baby girl, Habibo.
I sit on a stool with our one of our staff to interpret and ask her how she came to be here in Ibrahim’s house. At first, she looks away shyly as she tells me about how her family in Somalia was split apart, how she was married off by her father when she was 12 and how she left to look for her mother when the hunger became too bad. As she tells me the next part of her story, she finally looks at me and you can see the sadness in her eyes.
“I lived in the bush for several weeks with nothing but this cloth to cover me,” she says as she points to the cloth now covering her bed. “I knew I had to get somewhere where there was food but did not know how to get there. I knew my unborn baby also needed me to eat”.
She describes how she then managed to find a truck going to Kenya and how she used her last bit of money to pay for a ride. The truck was packed full of people and Isnino was wedged under many others for the two day journey.
On the second day of the journey, Isnino gave birth to her daughter inside the truck, surrounded by other refugees. She was too exhausted and scared to feel much happiness but hoped where she was going would be a better place for her daughter.
When she arrived at the reception center, Isnino and her newborn baby were lucky to be moved quickly through the long line where thousands of refugees were waiting to be registered. Because she had just given birth, she was taken quickly to the hospital and Save the Children, the agency in charge of child protection, was contacted.
Save the Children staff knew Ibrahim was willing to take in more children as a foster parent but would he and his wife accept this young girl and her fragile, newborn baby? Miraculously, he immediately agreed and Isnino and Habibo came to stay in the small mud room where I find her now, a few months after her horrible journey.
After telling me her courageous story, I ask Isnino if she thinks she may be able to find any of her family here. She tells me she doesn’t know where her mother might be but her father has been in contact.
“I hope he can come to visit me so I can find out how my brothers and sisters are doing. I am worried for them because there was no food when I left. I am safe here and my baby and I have what I need but they had nothing”.
Carolyn stands with Ibrahim Adan, 48, (holding child) and his wife, Aisha (center), who have been foster parents in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya for Save the Children since 2007.