Chris Tidey is a UNICEF communications officer presently supporting emergency relief efforts in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya.
Yesterday morning, I accompanied UNICEF’s health specialist on the second day of vaccinations at Ifo camp in Dadaab. Over the coming days, more than 220,000 children under five in the camps and host communities will be immunized against measles and polio.
Our team gathered in Block B of Ifo and the community mobiliser announced our visit to the surrounding community. Within several minutes, there was a crowd of mothers and children waiting their turn. Over the course of two hours, the team vaccinated more than 150 children. I found it comical that none of the girls cried when they received the needle, but virtually every single boy burst into tears and dramatic wailing. This emerging trend had the community health workers in hysterics.
|Aden holds his father’s hand at the Hagadera stabilisation centre in Dadaab, Kenya.
On the return journey from Ifo camp, I stopped at the Hagadera stabilisation centre to check in on Aden, a three year old boy who weighed just five kilograms when he arrived at the camp two weeks ago. His frail body was perilously close to shutting down and doctors at the Hagadera hospital wondered whether he would survive.
I’m thrilled to report that Aden is still here. In fact, he is getting stronger, improving in small increments each day. Aden’s slow, but steady recovery comes as a result of near constant treatment from the dedicated staff at the Hagadera hospital and a regime of therapeutic feeding provided by UNICEF. But, I think there is more to his improving condition than medical care alone. Every time I visit Aden at the hospital, his father is there. The doctors tell me that since Aden was admitted, his father has been a fixture at his bedside.
Today, Aden even gave me a smile.
The influx of new refugees continues at about 1,500 per day and by this morning, there were at least 400 being processed at the Ifo reception centre when I stopped in.