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Oxfam in Yemen: the volunteers that are saving lives

Posted by Ola Fattah Information and Communication Officer in Yemen

12th Aug 2014

In Yemen, some 10 million people,almost half the population, do not have enough food to eat. Ola Fattah, Oxfam's information and communication Officer shares the story of Adam Jamal, a young boy who is severely malnourished, and how Oxfam volunteers are being trained to help people like him in their communities.

Sabah Jamal thought that her 18 month old son Adam wouldn't survive. "My son was suffering from severe diarrhoea and weight loss. He could not even cry. I was almost sure he would die at any moment. I blamed myself a lot but I couldn't do anything to help him. I felt helpless."

Mohammed Al-Hermily an Oxfam volunteer spotted that Adam was suffering from malnutrition and admitted him to hospital. Mohammed is one of many of our volunteers who have been trained on how to take mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) measurements for children in his village. These measurements are a simple method to indicate if children under five are severely or moderately malnourished. Around five million people are severely food insecure in Yemen.  

Sabah recalled, "In the beginning, we refused to leave Adam in the hospital as we didn't have enough money. His father is a daily worker and I have other children in the house who also need care. Oxfam's health volunteer convinced us that Adam should stay in the hospital to be treated."

After five days in hospital, Adam's health improved dramatically. Sabah said "Adam was lucky to survive. The volunteers came at the right time and were able to recognise the signs and symptoms of malnutrition. I now understand that a lot of children are able to survive malnutrition if they receive the right attention and care."

Adam's father is overwhelmed by Oxfam's support "The money I've received from Oxfam's cash transfer program has helped me to buy food for my family and take care of Adam when he was sick."

Oxfam volunteers like Mohammed continue to visit Adam and other families in the village to monitor their children and conduct awareness sessions on hygiene promotion and how to prevent malnutrition.  

Adam's father smiles, "My baby is still alive! Now he plays with children, he can walk and he is full of energy."


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Header Image: Adam with his family after returning home. Credit: Ola Fattah

Blog post written by Ola Fattah

Information and Communication Officer in Yemen

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