Providing Psychosocial Support to Displaced Children in Ethiopia: Beritu's Story - GOAL Global Skip to content

Providing Psychosocial Support to Displaced Children in Ethiopia: Beritu’s Story


May 30, 2024 • 2 min read

Beritu* is a 35-year-old mother and the sole caretaker of her 6-year-old son, Melkamu*. Life hasn’t been easy for the small family. Beritu found it difficult to care for Melkamu on her own, as the young boy was experiencing significant mental health challenges. Beritu sought access to formal treatment for her child but to no avail.  

A mother seeking support for her child

Many vulnerable communities in Ethiopia face significant challenges when attempting to access basic healthcare, as the provision of health services has been repeatedly disrupted by years of conflict.

Ethiopia’s health system lacks the resources to effectively mitigate the psychological impacts of humanitarian disasters and mass displacement, in addition to tackling the cultural stigma surrounding mental health.

Displacement uprooting lives

Beritu’s situation took a turn for the worse when armed conflict forced her to flee her home in western Ethiopia. Beritu and Melkamu settled in an IDP camp in Debre Birhan, a small city on the outskirts of Addis Ababa.

After losing everything, Melkamu struggled to adapt to his new surroundings. As his condition began to deteriorate, Beritu was consumed by constant worry for her son’s safety and well-being. Unable to focus on anything else, the newly displaced mother felt overwhelmed and hopeless.

Providing psychosocial support to displaced children

When a GOAL mobile health team visited Beritu and Melkamu within the camp, the exhausted mother shared how she was unable to cope with her child’s mental health challenges.

GOAL’s mental health and psychosocial support team began providing regular care and support to Beritu and Melkamu. With consistent speech therapy, medication, and regular follow-up appointments, the mother and son began to heal. Melkamu was showing improvement.

“Our life was full of struggle, so I was in darkness. I never thought that I would get such support and my child would get better,” Beritu admitted. “I have no word that would match the support and kindness GOAL showed to me and my child. “

Melkamu can now regulate his emotions and communicate with his peers. Beritu even enrolled him in school, where he now attends classes with other children who are experiencing displacement. Even though life has changed drastically for the small family, Beritu is now able to envision a more positive future for herself and her child.

Baheru Teshome, a member of Debre Birhan City’s public health team, said: “You don’t just learn about what GOAL does from a project banner or brochure; it’s visible in the community. Their work speaks for itself, showing their outstanding achievements both inside and outside of the camp.”

*The names of the individuals featured in this story were changed to protect their identity