Melkadida – I don’t have a hundred birr

by Sven Ramones,  2011/09/01

Since last week, the third medical team of humedica has been active at the Ethiopian refugee camp of Melkadida. At a so-called Health Centre of the camp, the doctors provide medical care to the people, who have fled to Ethiopia in order to escape the consequences of the drought.

This weakened mother in Melkadida is waiting for the humedica doctors to examine and weigh her child and treat it accordingly. Photo: humedica/Sven Ramones

By offering their services, the team, which consists of the doctors Dr. Anja Fröhlich, Dr. Mechthild Wortmann and Dr. Heinrich Laube, as well as of coordinator Stefan Herla, actively supports the relief efforts of humedica for the victims of the crisis at the Horn of Africa. The team’s media coordinator, Sven Ramones, reports from Ethiopia:

“Melkadida is the name of one of the four large refugee camps near the Ethiopian city of Dollo Ado close to the border to Somalia. The literal translation of Melkadida is: “I don’t have a hundred.” This is to express that those living here do not even have one hundred birr, which is equivalent to about four euros (ca. 5.7 USD). This is to express that those living here are destitute.

The people who came to Melkadida fled their homes in Somalia. They fled war and gunfights, and lately also one of the worst droughts that have affected the country for decades. These persons were forced to leave their homes by hunger, misery and violence, all of which are consequences of the failed rain seasons.

One of the almost 40,000 inhabitants of Melkadida is Abdirahman. Constant gunfights and the permanent hunger caused the 48-year old man to flee to Ethiopia together with his two children.

Once, Abdirahman had is own marked stand in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. When he was working there one day, he got caught in the cross fire of a gunfight taking place in open daylight. His arm was badly injured by a bullet and had to be amputated.

The past three years and the famine that is becoming ever worse pushed the family to its limits: father Abdirahman and his children Barka and Abdullgadir inside their emergency shelter. Photo: humedica/Sven Ramones

Only one week before this tragic accident, Abdirahman’s wife had been killed, when militia fighters had shot at the bus she had wanted to take to get home. Their son had been lying on her knees and had been hit in the head by a bullet.

As by a miracle the boy had survived the severe injury, but since the incident he has not been able to speak properly and he is deaf in the right ear. Possibly, there still remains a bullet splinter in his brain, but without corresponding examinations this is only an assumption.

And then there was the drought that mercilessly hit all regions of Somalia this year. Without the means of providing for themselves in their home country, the family was faced with ruin.

Relatives helped Abdirahman and collected money so that he could flee together with his children. And hence, the father and his eight-year old daughter Barka and his ten-year old son Abdullgadir set out on the cumbersome journey to the neighbouring country, in order to escape the permanent threat they had to face in their home country.

Abdirahman told us that the worst circumstance for him is the fact that he is no longer able to work and that therefore he is unable care for his children.

Today, the family lives in a small empty tent at Melkadida, as do so many others. The suffocating heat that accumulates inside the tents soon becomes unbearable. Dust of the parched desert land all around the camp covers the people’s skin, burns in their eyes and crunches between their teeth.

Thanks to the humedica doctors, little Abdullgadir is going to undergo a proper neurological examination in Addis Abeba. Photo: humedica/Sven Ramones

The few things the family has left fit into a few little bags in one corner of the tent. They only things they have left are some clothes, blankets and an old cooking gear. When being asked what their living conditions at camp are like, Abdirahman says: “Just look around. This is what our life is like.”

Neither daughter Barka nor son Abdullgadir can attend the refugee camp’s school. Barka must stay at home in order to care for her father and brother who, in turn, is unable to follow the lessons like all the other children due to the secondary damages caused by his head injury.

A few days ago Abdirahman and his son attended the Melkadida Health Centre, where the medical team of humedica is active.

The humedica doctors could refer Abdullgadir to the hospital of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Abeba, where he is going to undergo a careful neurological examination in order to find out if there still remains a bullet splinter in his head. This examination will determine if further treatment or a surgery are possible.

Abdullgadir hence is given the chance for a recovery and maybe even the opportunity to attend school. Little Barka says that she wants to become a teacher when she is older.

And also Abdirahman wants nothing more than for his children to lead a happy life: “I want my children to have a good life. But this can only be decided by God.

One of the almost 40,000 inhabitants of the Melkadida refugee camp is Abdirahman. Photo: humedica/Sven Ramones

Our help is aimed to our fellow people; to individual persons such as Abdirahman and his children Abdullgadir and Barka. Thanks to your help, dear friends and sponsors, we can live charity in action and can help people in misery far beyond these individual persons.

Please continue supporting us and in particular the people at the Horn of Africa by means of making an online donation or a donation to the account below. Thank you very much!

      humedica e.V.
      Donation reference “Famine relief Africa
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

You can also support us in a secure, fast and simple way by means of sending at text message: send a text message containing the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90. Your mobile bill will be charged with an amount of 5 euros, 4.83 euros of which will be directly channelled into the humedica disaster relief projects.

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