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Trailblazing Somali mother guides other mothers towards positive change


Wednesday May 22, 2024
By Maslah Mumin

 


UNICEF Somalia/Mumin

Each mother in the support group is informed about the importance of breastfeeding, with a special emphasis on encouraging them to breastfeed their infants exclusively for the first six months.

Galkayo, 21 May 2024: Nadihifo Ahmed, a 46-year-old mother of five, leads a group of mothers in her community. Once a month, she holds a meeting in her house, at the health center, or at the community center for the Mother-to-Mother (m2m) support group she leads. The group has 12 women, all of them living near each other.

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Nadhifo’s journey to becoming a leader in the group was not easy. Even though she is a natural leader and an outstanding community advocate, she still had to undergo training conducted by the Puntland Minority Women Development Organization (PMWDO), a UNICEF partner in Puntland. She was trained to coach the mothers on health care and feeding practices for infants and young children and to encourage breastfeeding among pregnant women and new mothers.

Each mother in the group is informed about the importance of breastfeeding, with a special emphasis on encouraging them to breastfeed their infants exclusively for the first six months, which benefits their health and significantly reduces the risk of death among infants from the two leading causes - diarrhoea and pneumonia. The m2m groups discuss health and nutrition. 

“Before our involvement with this group, it was a common practice among the mothers to give their babies water and sugar when they cry. This has been a common practice throughout the years, but we came to understand that it was a harmful practice,” says Halima, a member of the group.

“We meet as often as possible considering that we all live close to each other. Most of the issues we discuss are those that affect us and our children, including access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities. The group is quite lively, and my role is to encourage the mothers to speak up and share their experiences, knowing that their voices are powerful catalysts for change,” says Nadhifo.

“I am able to improve the knowledge of the mothers who have not had the opportunity to participate in the support group and benefit from the trainings and lectures I have had,” she says. “Being part of the community has given me the credibility and acceptance that are necessary to impart and share as much information as possible,” she adds.

Among Nadhifo’s responsibilities is to screen children for malnutrition. She works closely with the community health center where she refers a child whom she suspects has malnutrition.

"I love what I do because it makes me feel proud to work in the community and provide mothers and children with a healthy future," she says.

With financial support from the Government of Denmark, UNICEF supports the mother-to-mother groups through the PMWDO. The groups comprise women of varying ages, but all are mothers. There are 10 of such groups in Puntland state, and four are in Galkayo. 



 





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