The chorus of babies and mothers breaking into song, bringing a welcome change from mundane camp existence.
"Our work with refugees is vital and your support makes all the difference."
Since August 2011, I have been working with GOAL’s Refugee Program in Ethiopia managing the various programmes. I have worked between the Dollo Ado refugee camps in the Somali Region in south-eastern Ethiopia, the Berhale and Asayita Refugee Camps in Afar Region in the north east of Ethiopia as well as the Gambella refugee camps in the South West for the South Sudanese refugees.
In Gambella Region, GOAL is currently implementing a comprehensive nutrition intervention focusing on the screening, prevention and treatment of malnutrition at Tierkadi and Kule refugee camps. The combined population of two the camps is well over 100,000 (Tierkadi camp is 66,287 and Kule camp is 50,532) with more than 87% of the total camp population made up of children less than 18 years and women.
In GOAL’s work with refugees one of the main focus is on ‘1,000 days of life’ this being from pregnancy to two years, special women and baby friendly places are set up in the camps. These rooms are made as comfortable as possible with mattresses on the floor and drawings on the wall and toys scattered around. The setting provides a forum for women-to-women discussions and where GOAL’s nurses and midwives counsel women. Appropriate maternal nutrition is promoted, skilled breastfeeding support is provided to women with breastfeeding problems. There is a growth monitoring where all babies less than 2 years of age have their weight for age measured monthly and if faltering they are referred for weight for height measurement and the appropriate counselling and nutrition services.
These rooms are recommended to be quiet but sometimes (or often) they are not so quiet with the chorus of babies and mothers breaking into song, bringing a welcome change from mundane camp existence. It is very evident, women that have support from family friends and community are better able to manage the everyday struggles of the refugee camps. The difficulties in the refugee setting is that many women are often separated from their families and on their own and struggle with life.
Life gives hope, and the hope is that someday the women will be able to return back home with their babies.
Since the setup of the two refugee camps in Gambella with GOAL’s support the under-five mortality rate Deaths/10,000/day has greatly improved, evidenced by nutrition surveys.
Your generosity and support makes this change happen!
Mary T Murphy
Refugee Programme Manager GOAL Ethiopia