Samira Abdulkadir came to the United States 10 years ago, a young bride with a baby boy. She was from Somalia but came to the U.S. by route of Kenya, where she was married. The family settled just outside of Boston, in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and Abdulkadir had more children. Her second child, a girl, was born deaf. Then she had a boy, who died after five months in the hospital. Her next child, another girl, was also deaf—like their father.
When this youngest girl was born without hearing, Abdulkadir drifted toward despair. She spoke very little English, she didn’t have any extended family in the area, she was still grieving the loss of her baby, two out of her three surviving children were deaf, and she said her husband couldn’t share much of the responsibility at home because of his own disability.
MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center referred Abdulkadir to its Healthy Families America home-visiting program. The service is designed to support first-time parents, as well as those raising babies for the first time in the United States. The program offers supports to immigrant families adjusting to U.S. culture and an unfamiliar health-care system until their youngest child turns three. Based on individual needs, MGH home-visitors help connect families to social services, educational opportunities, and medical or mental health care. They also follow an early-childhood curriculum to ensure babies and toddlers meet developmental milestones on time.