When Farida brought her one-year-old daughter to this Save the Children-supported, government-run facility, she thought she would die. Now the little girl in her arms has improved greatly, and is even playing with other children at the clinic. Photo Credit: Lucia Zoro/Save the Children 2011.

When Farida brought her one-year-old daughter to this Save the Children-supported, government-run facility, she thought she would die. Now the little girl in her arms has improved greatly, and is even playing with other children at the clinic.

Survivor Story from Nigeria

Caring for Kadija

Save the Children works around the world, every day on life-saving hunger, health and child survival programs – saving one child at a time. Read Lucia Zoro’s interview with the mother of Kadija, a brave little survivor in Nigeria . Kadija*, 12 months old, female, with her mother Farida*, 23, came to a hospital providing nutrition services in Nigeria. Save the Children supports the government to run both drop-in and inpatient clinics as part of the existing Ministry of Health hospital. This interview was conducted at the inpatient ward. Here is their story.

“When I got here, I had lost all hope of her surviving, carrying her on my shoulder. I was scared. Her intermittent breathing got me thinking that she might die. But now, she does look better. 

“Compared to when she was limp and lifeless, now she stirs and feels heavier. All that time, she was skinny and bony. You could literally count her bones. What choice do I have? I must carry her.

“It started as a fever like any other, besides the fact that she cried all through the night and had a lot of diarrhea. In the day time, the fever lessened, but by nightfall, it sort of increased. It all started like a fever and deteriorated into vomiting and diarrhea.

Kadija's Health Declines

I remember that it was on a Friday, about four months ago, a month before sallah [Eid festivities]. In that period, she could be ill for three weeks at a stretch and sometimes you would think she was better because she might look that way for a day or two. But in all, her refusal to eat kept me on edge.

“Before the fever started, she played okay. But at the onset of the fever, she withdrew. She didn’t play; she hardly ate. I didn’t think she would still be alive today. A playful child that deteriorated to a crying, vomiting and withdrawn child. It was a sharp contrast.

“At that time, I wasn’t happy at all. No mother could be comfortable. I abandoned most household chores and I didn’t take part in any social activities. How can one do all those under these conditions? Issues like fetching water, milling, corn grinding and other household chores, to be frank, suffered from lack of attention. Other chores like washing and cleaning were neglected too. I couldn’t turn my back for fear that she might relapse.

An Unbearable Loss

“I have just this one child; I lost my other child. There was no prolonged illness. She just fell sick in one day and died before the next daybreak. I felt a great loss. The world went black. I can’t even describe the moment.

“This rainy season, it will be three years since she died. She was 16 months old.

“When Kadija got sick I felt a déjà vu. Like I might lose her too. Of course I was frightened, initially, but as the days went by, it became an on-and-off thing, I felt more relaxed. Now with the turn of events, I am relieved.

I decided to come for help this time last week. Before this, we had been to a hospital where we were given syrup, but I had to discontinue it as I couldn’t see any visible improvement.

“We then used herbs. I had hoped for an injection previously but we weren’t given any. I had been to another place three times, where I was referred to this place. When I arrived they saw Kadija’s condition and they immediately admitted her.  

“Slowly, as you can see, there was a noticeable improvement. It is a gradual process to recuperate. I’m overwhelmed with a soothing joy seeing as she is slowly recovering.

On the Mend

“Now Kadija is different to hold. There is a great change! Now I can play with her. She plays with me and the children around her. She has stopped crying all the time. She even reaches for food. The last time we were here to collect food she wouldn’t take it once we got home. But now she’s eager to.

“My hope is that I want to see her looking very fine and healthy. I hope to carry her babies like I am carrying her now and that she gets a western education.

“I hadn’t heard of Save the Children before now. There had never been a reason. I lost my other child not knowing. But now that I know, thank God. I am overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude for everything done.”

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* Names have been changed to protect the family’s privacy.

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