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A Plea to protect the mentally ill in Somalia!

In war zones, it’s quite common to come across people with psychiatric illnesses, be it the militia, the army personnel, or even the civilians. In my community, we do not have any centers that cater to these people.
I remember there was a lady, who had a mental illness, in my home town. She used to roam about the city sometimes with her cloth torn and almost half naked. She was extra violent therefore nobody was taking care of her. This woman did not have a home or a shelter to sleep so she would just fall asleep in the streets. Although she did not have an immediate family to care for her, Of course her extended family also did not intervene and take care of this lady. She was constantly getting pregnant because some lowlife men would sneak around and rape her in the middle of the night and few weeks later she would get pregnant, but that baby doesn’t have any chances of survival since she was unable to tell right from wrong she would accidentally harm herself and the baby would have to be aborted. The good doctor in the city spoke to some of her clan members and informed them that he would give her a shot so that she won’t have to go through the trouble of having an abortion every few weeks. They allowed him to proceed and so he did. She never got pregnant again but that doesn’t mean she was not raped, beaten, and assaulted in every form. I was only 10yrs old but I clearly remember all the incidents that occurred to the mentally ill people in my community then and even now. They are human beings so they deserve to be treated a lot better. They deserve to be cared for, medically treated since they are ill, and fed, clothed, bathed, and taken care of. They are city dwellers because nobody would dare to keep most these individuals in their homes because they are afraid for themselves, for their kids, and for their families.
I do know that my community was very poor and the resources were scarce, and I also know that most of my community members were really not aware or educated about this illness and they dint treat it as such, because they treated these individuals like lost souls. And I also know this could be eliminated and avoided with education and awareness about these illnesses so that these individuals would get a better treatment. But I am quite puzzled about the fact that 17 years later, this hasn’t stopped and the so called ‘crazy people’ both men and women roam about the city, killing people and been killed, and also been exposed to all types of assault and harassment especially women who are always raped and sexually assaulted.
Something has to be done about this, and I am completely racking my brain because I am thinking of ways to deal with this situation. I know that they need medical assistant, as much as they need shelter and food. There are humanitarian agencies present in my community but none of them has the ability to do something about these cases. I remember several aid workers came from Italy to bring treatment to these people and the general hospital was expanded to include psychiatric ward however it’s vacant and were used for the short period the aid workers were present. The reason it hasn’t been used is because there no funds to keep it running. The families of these individuals are not able to pay the hospital for the medical fees, as well as the other living expenses associated with it.
There is a center in the capital of Puntland states in Garowe which somewhat functions as a psychiatric and rehab center, however the only people who take advantage of their services is the people who can afford to pay for the expenses. If you take a patient there, you are required to bring along his food three times a day, and pay for the medical fees and accommodation.
There are several success stories of people, army personnel specifically, who were taken to that center and gained their mental capacity after they have been treated. It shows that people are becoming aware of this illness and are willing to accept treatment, however, for the poor and unwanted individuals who are unaccounted for, this bodes nothing. They need urgent assistant and the community needs these centers.
I am telling this story in the hope that a concrete solution might arise for this problem. I want to reach out to the good doers among the global community to take a step towards in solving this matter. I beg for any psychiatric help organization to come forward and bring about a solution. They are human beings and they have rights. Their rights should be given, and they should be protected and treated as humans.

Comments

What a terrifying situation to witness! when society breaks down, the most vulnerable people -- the mentally ill -- suffer the most. My hope is that society can be healed enough to protect such vulnerable people.
Chris

Deqa's picture

Terrifying indeed

Thank you Christine for reading and commenting on my post. I was motivated to write about this issue because i recently came aware of a horrific incident whereby a mentally ill person who was actually very violent (killing men and raping women) and was confided in a room with chains in his family's house ended up breaking out and then a security guard saw him coming towards him and he asked him to turn back and of course this man is mentally ill so he didn't comply and the security guard shot him and killed him. It all came back to me from my childhood, all the memories of incidents involving sick people who aren't treated as such, and I thought maybe i could just write about it to get a clearer picture and maybe find solution for this dilemma.
Again thank you for stopping by and kudos for the awesome work you are doing. I read that you are a mentor and that is a privilege as VOF correspondents, like myself, we get a constant direction and support of sisterhood.
Love
Deqa

Mbizo Chirasha's picture

Its so painful

What a bad world there in somaliland , iam really touched ,we need to rise up.

Mbizo Chirasha
International Perfomances Poet, Writer ,Creative/Literary Projects Specialist
Founder/Creative Director- Girlchildcreativity Project

Deqa's picture

Many thank

Thank you for reading and commenting on my post brother.
By the way, it is Somalia not Somaliland, becuase the country is Somalia whereby Somaliland, Puntland, Jubbaland, and south central are all states within the same country. But Somaliland State is trying to be separated but they have not been granted a recognition from the UN, however the other states did not declare separation yet still all are still within the federal state. And I am from Puntland State and that is were i report from. Its confusing otherwise lol but I hope I made it a bit clearer.

Again kudos for the awesome work you are doing to elevate the spirit and empower the young girls.
Deqa

JaniceW's picture

This news breaks my heart

I read up on the topic and according to the World Health Organisation one in three Somalis suffers from mental illness.

Do you know about Abdirahman Ali Awale, known as Habeeb, a passionate advocate for the mentally ill who opened his first mental-health hospital in Mogadishu in 2005? He now operates a network of four hospitals and rehabilitation centres, with limited help from the WHO and other international donors (situated in Berbera, Bossaso, Garowe, Hargeisa and Mogadishu).

From all that I read, this is the only person providing care for the mentally ill and other than WHO, I could not find any other organization working in Somalia for the mentally ill. It appears that some of hospital's work involves educating locals about mental health illnesses. Without support from the international community, it seems that this is the only avenue for treatment and care of the mentally ill. It is a sad situation indeed and I hope that your posts will increase awareness of this issue in Somalia and prompt some action, no matter how small.

libudsuroy's picture

Dear Deqa, You have unearthed

Dear Deqa,
You have unearthed and exposed a timely issue. I admire you for speaking out. Humanitarian organizations are only beginning to look into the mental/psychological angle of post-conflict well-being. Even journalism and media practitioners are only beginning to understand vicarious or secondary trauma among peers who cover war and other forms of violence.

It is heartwarming to know that you are aware of this situation and seeks to support the efforts to serve the needs of this particular disadvantaged sector of your country. I hope you can meet like-minded people in your country who can help you carry on with your ideas. Perhaps you can start by volunteering in a health-oriented non-profit organization.

I have just read a news article about what Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is doing to address mental health issues.

Part of the article reads: ".. But beyond the physical ailments, there are some wounds that are unseen, scars that are invisible to the eyes.

"The psychological and emotional scars of war – wounds that may continue in people's minds long after the fighting has ended – were being neglected and must be addressed.

"The emotional and psychological distress of people caught in crossfire or the agonizing loss of family members due to an earthquake can be a major health concern if neglected.....Very often medication is not required for psychological trauma. With the right guidance and teaching of simple coping mechanisms, people can make great gains in dealing with fears and anxiety and can restore their normal day-to-day functionality..."

You can access the entire article here:
http://my.news.yahoo.com/blogs/pulse/invisible-scars-time-crisis-0819525...

Blessings,
libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

Hideko N.'s picture

Dear Dega

Thank you for the courage to share the story about mentally ills. That is a topic I want to deal with sometime since my sister suffered from schizophrenia for over 30 years at the same time she has amazing talent for playing the piano. We want society that can bring the best out of them instead of exploiting.

Hideko N.
SWACIN Support Women & Children in Nigeria
Web site: http://www.swacin.com
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/Swacin

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