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A reason to smile in Kenya

It’s 19-month-old Osman Abdi’s third day in our stabilisation centre.

The centre hosts 23 children on a normal day.

It’s now stretched beyond capacity with 46 children suffering from malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia, with each case outdoing the other in severity.

Just a normal cough

It all began with what mothers in this area refer to as a ‘normal cough’, which usually lasts a few days then disappears.

But in Osman’s case, time failed to bring reprieve and he broke a fever.

He was rushed to the nearest hospital and admitted for two nights to treat his cough, oral thrush, difficulty in breathing, and his refusal to feed.

a recovering baby Osman at the stabilization centre
Osman, 19 months old, making a recovery in our stabilisation centre.

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Save the Children cases

There’s coded language used here to describe the magnitude of sickness.

‘Save the Children cases’ refer to children who everyone else has given up on and have been referred to our centres for a jolt to life.

Osman is now at the stabilisation phase of his stay here: he’s put on a three-hourly feed and receives treatment for the pneumonia and malaria.

Reason to smile

Although his illnesses have sucked the little life left in him, there’s a reason to smile.

His fever is down, his cough’s subsided and he can sit up.

The next 18 days will be crucial as we continue to give him therapeutic food and treat his illnesses.

One more wish

I watch as his mother caringly rubs her only child’s head and wishes that of all other gifts bestowed upon women, the power to take disease away was among them.

You can almost read in her eyes the psychological pain of a mother with an ailing child.

She’s almost saying, “If you’re a mother, you would understand the pain of watching your helpless child wear away, crying out to you to fight the pain and protect him like you always have, but you can’t because it’s a force of nature beyond you.”

Again I remind myself of the vital, life-saving work that we do and that we must deal with childhood diseases once and for all.

Please donate to our East Africa appeal now

With your support we can save more lives.

The desperate look of a mother with an ailing child.


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