Mohamed Yussuf Dahir, IOM medical nurse stationed in in Kenya’s Dadaab, North Eastern province undertakes his duties with so much enthusiasm of a prize bull, fighting in an arena. His strong character, sheer hard work and sense of duty will impress anyone. He was in his true element at the height of Horn of Africa Drought Crisis in 2011 when he attended to thousands of sick Somali refugees who were fleeing drought and seeking refuge in neighbouring Kenya. Most of them including the elderly and the young walked for days- nearly 100km without food, water or medical attention.
Why is this your most rewarding experience:
The influx started at the beginning of the Holy Month of Ramadhan. The refugees we were attending to had travelled for a long distance to access help in Dadaab and since many were arriving through the Kenya-Somalia border, we needed to get transportation for them to reach the Refugee Camp. It was a sight like I had never seen. Armed with my medical kit, I soldiered and zealously attended to the sick, under the gaze of the tormenting and unforgiving sun. The refugees had travelled for long distances without food and water and IOM we were their first contact when they arrived in Kenya.
My Lowest Moment:
During the crisis, I met a mother of six, who narrated to me how on her way to the border point, she had to abandon one of her sick daughters to die along the roadside. She was confronted with the decision whether to nurse her and later die of hunger or leave her and save the rest of the family. The traumatized mother chose the latter. The ordeal left me devastated for days.
Security at the time posed the biggest challenge as we could not cross the Somalia border. Most of the sick could not make it to the border point. On several occasions, good Samaritans would help them cross the border and we would attend to them before escorting them back to the Dadaab Refugee Camp.
The crisis made me have a strong character, evidenced by the suffering I witnessed. Despite it been my job, I knew I was serving mankind in the role I played; I would do it again if called upon do so.
Assisting a pregnant woman deliver when I found her experiencing labour pains at the Liboi border point was one my proudest moments as a humanitarian aid worker. I found her sitting under a tree in anguish. Her three children, not knowing what to do were trying to make her calm down. Together with my colleagues, we took her to Liboi health centre and helped her deliver and six days later, we escorted her to Dadaab Refugee Camp.