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Ethiopia: A GOALie in action


March 23, 2021 • 4 min read

Senayt Gebremedhin is passionate about her work with GOAL Ethiopia. Working for agency for the last six years, the 26-year-old is part of the GOAL team responding to the conflict which has devastated the lives of thousands in Tigray.

Working in a temporary Internally Displaced People camp (IDP), everyday brings new challenges. Senayt stops here and there to talk to the camp community in Mekele and politely responds to their inquiries.

This temporary camp is a former school. It is accommodating 700 people displaced in the region due to the conflict. Senayt is helping provide hope to the lives of those forced to flee their homes, in fear of danger and hunger.

GOAL started supporting this community in collaboration with the federal government when the recent conflict in northern Tigray displaced thousands. It is helping deliver food and other aid to those suffering from hunger and malnutrition due to lack of access to market or food.

In her six years with GOAL, Senayt has witnessed many challenges including the impact of natural disasters such as floods and locust swarms. However, the last few month have been particularly intense.

Even being able to provide simple support such as a blanket or a plastic dish is a vital help, says Senayt. “It might seem not seem significant but a warm blanket can mean a good night’s sleep for a single mother and her children who are cold, for example. And a dish helps ensure a child will get to eat.“

GOAL adopts a target filtering mechanism to ensure it is reaching those most in need.

Says Senayt: “The displaced community themselves come together to determine who deserves the support most, and if anyone disagrees, they can appeal to a separate committee assigned by the IDPs themselves. So we are including the community directly in the process. “

Through collaboration with other humanitarian organizations and the IDPs themselves, non-food Items have been efficiently distributed to more than 300 people in the camp, and other supports are in the pipeline with the same approach.”

“We are making a difference to the daily lives of the community. Nothing makes me happier than to see the impact of our support, especially to pregnant and lactating mother in the camp. I hope that one day I get to see the displaced people go back to their former peaceful lives with a big smile on their faces”. Senayt concluded.

Zaid’s Story

30 year old Zaid Mehari, is eight months pregnant. She is one of thousands of displaced people who have been forced to flee their homes due to the conflict in Tigray, northern Ethiopia.

Had it not been for the conflict Zaid would be safe in her warm home in Adigrat, the second biggest city in the region, being looked after by her mother, husband and brother.

Before the conflict Zaid was a successful and respected retailer, and her husband a government employee. The couple were excited, counting days to the birth of their firstborn.

But the conflict started, and she fled to a nearby small town. She begged her elderly mother to go with her. But her mother refused saying she would rather die in a place she had lived in all her life.

Since she left home, Zaid has had to move three times. Conflict followed wherever she went. She was so tired of running she decided to stay in Mekele, Tigray’s capital city, to face whatever fate sent her.

When she awoke in the morning, she had nothing

At one stage Zaid was sheltering in a church, with all her possessions – a few clothes and her purse – in a plastic bag. One night her bag was stolen by other displaced people. When she awoke in the morning, she had nothing. Crying, she was approached by a representative of the Red Cross. After explaining her situation she was relocated to a temporary IDP camp.

Zaid found safe haven in the camp where GOAL teams were ready to support her. She was provided with a blanket, cooking materials, a hygiene kit, and financial support. Worried for the safetty of her unborn baby, Zaid also received a medical check up.

“I was traumatized by all that happened to me. I thought nobody cared. When aid workers approached me, I felt that I was not alone.  GOAL has given me hope now in my life”.

Meanwhile Zaid awaits the birth of her first child. And like many other IDPs, she wants to see the conflict over. All she wants is to be reunited with her mother, husband, and brothers.