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.