Aguissa was my best friend. Starting out as neighbors, we soon became far more than that with Aguisssa spending most of her time around my house because her husband was often away travelling. She could always make me laugh and I was pleased for her when she told me she was pregnant for the first time.
I was asleep one night, resting peacefully when I heard a desperate knocking on my door. It was Aguissa’s sister. Aguissa was suffering terrible pains in her belly and had begun labour, so I ran to fetch the traditional birth attendant in the village. By the time we reached Aguissa she was ready to give birth. She delivered a little baby boy, Ibrahima.
It should have been a time of great happiness, but we could tell that the delivery had been difficult. Aguissa lost so much blood and drifted in and out of consciousness. By the next morning my friend, Aguissa, was dead.
The sadness was too much for her family, so her husband asked me to take care of little Ibrahima. Having grown children of my own, I never thought I would care for a baby again. With no breast milk to feed him I gave him cow’s or goat’s milk whenever I could find it in the village.
This was a painful time for me as I could see Ibrahima getting weaker because he was not getting the right milk. I tried everything I could to make him strong, but nothing was ever enough.
At age three months Ibrahima became very sick. His temperature was too high. I prepared a concoction of plant roots that I hoped would help to bring his fever down. I know now that was a mistake that almost cost him his life. Ibrahima developed diarrhea and vomited everything I fed him. He was so tiny, I knew that he would not survive for long if he could not eat anything.
I spoke to healers in the village but nobody knew how to make him well again, so I began the long journey to the nearest health centre, 30 miles away in Banikane.
International Medical Corps runs the health center in Banikane, as well as the stabilization center in the hospital at Gourma Rharous. International Medical Corps offers primary health care, ante-natal and post-natal services. At the stabilization center International Medical Corps provides staff, training, equipment and medicines as well as milk and therapeutic food to malnourished children.
The doctor immediately saw that Ibrahima had lost too much weight and ordered that the child should urgently be admitted to the hospital in Gourma Rharous.
Four days after being admitted Ibrahima began to grow stronger and as days went by he started gaining weight. After two weeks under observation Ibrahima had completely recovered and was discharged.
When we left the hospital, International Medical Corps gave me a tin of powdered milk and from that day onwards I received a constant supply of the milk to give to little Ibrahima.
I never expected to become Ibrahima’s mother, but I did. On my own I couldn’t keep him safe but the nurses also became his nourishing mothers and provided the care and food needed for him to get better. Thanks to all of us the child is still alive.