"The people need to know that they are not left alone"

by Sven Ramones,  2011/10/12

For a period of six weeks, coordinator Sven Ramones had been active for humedica in the south of Ethiopia, where one of the most devastating droughts of the last few decades is still threatening the lives of numerous persons.

During his stay in Dollo Ado, which is not far from the border to Somalia, Sven accompanied the various relief projects run by humedica at one of the refugee camps and in the Dollo region which is affected by the drought. After his return, he looked back to his mission and told us about is impressions.

Coordinator Sven Ramones is handing over the project to the new country coordinator Simone Winneg. Photo: humedica/Gabriel Labitzke

"It took our humedica team two days and half to travel overland from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Abeba to our mission location, Dollo Ado.

About one hundred kilometres before reaching our destination, we could make out a sea of white dots spreading at the horizon of the meagre desert landscape. These dots were the tents of Bokolomanyo, the first of the four large refugee camps which are located along the road to Dollo Ado. About 120,000 persons live at the camps.

We travelled on to Melkadida camp, where our doctors were to start their mission at the refugee camp's health station.

The scenario we encountered after our arrival at the camp seemed unexpected at the first glance. Hoards of children and teenagers ran towards us. They were laughing, surrounded us and accompanied us curiously on our way through camp.

In some places there was a lot of activity. People were fulfilling their daily tasks. If we had not know it better, we could have thought that this merely was one of the numerous villages or small towns we had passed through on our trip to Dollo Ado.

Preparing for a life at the refugee camp. The "market place" of Melkadida. Photo: humedica/Stefan Herla

And in some ways, Melkadida really is like a town. And this is where it's tragic begins. A tragic that is hidden at a first glance. Because here, the people's suffering takes place in hiding.

What is tragic is the fact that the people are forced to set up permanent lives under the conditions prevailing at a refugee camp. What is tragic is that most of them will not be able to return to their homes in the foreseeable future. Those who return will encounter violence and hopelessness.

It is obvious that the almost 40,000 people at the camp are living under dismal conditions. Bleak surroundings, heat and dust at a settlement built of partly threadbare tents and alarming hygienic conditions, as well as the certainty that the families wil probably have to spend the next few years here.

What you cannot see on the first glance are the thousands of fates and stories standing behind the people who have been forced to take refuge here due to the drought, hunger and violent fights in their home countries. What you cannot see on the first glance is the suffering of the ill and weak.

They are taken care of at the health station of the refugee camp. This is also the place where you encounter those who are affected worst. As so often, those affected worst are those who are weakest. The children.

The rough living conditions at the refugee camp put the people on a hard test. Photo: humedica/Sven Ramones

Above all children below the age of five continue to suffer from mal- and undernutrition most frequently. Many of them are either too weak to eat due to diseases or hunger has weakened them to a degree that they fall ill. This is also the age group with the highest mortality rate at camp.

Our doctors started their work. They worked together with the Ethiopian authorities in charge at the health station of Melkadida in order to help the children and all those living at the camp who were in need of medical care.

Soon this commitment will be expanded further. For many of the ill and weak distances within the large refugee camp are too long. They simply do no longer have the strength to make the exhausting long trip to get from one end of the camp to the other in order to receive help at the health station.

Therefore, humedica will among other things set up a second health station at Melkadida, which is to contribute to bringing medical care closer to those in need and hence to making it more easily accessible.

Aid not only for refugees

But here in the south of Ethiopia it is not only the refugees from Somalia who depend on help. We tend to forget about the local inhabitants of the Dollo region, who are suffering from the same devastating consequences of the drought at the Horn of Africa.

Help for the weakest. Above all little children urgently depend on the help of the humedica doctors. Photo: Rheinische Post/Helmut Michelis

They, too, lack water and food to provide for themselves and for their cattle. Also the health care situation at local communities is in a particularly bad way.

When we visited some health stations in the surroundings of Dollo Ado, we were faced with alarming conditions. They are lacking virtually everything that is necessary for sufficient medical treatment. They are lacking drugs, equipment and doctors.

Therefore, simple treatments or important vaccinations for children can often not be implemented.

Following the appeal of the local administration in charge, humedica will soon begin to equip two of the region's larger health stations with drugs and medical commodities such as beds, medical instruments and devices, and bandaging materials.

Since the end of September, the relief measures in Ethiopia have been organised from the base in Dollo Ado by the experienced humedica coordinator Simone Winneg. Over the next few months she will promote and manage the above-mentioned projects and other humedica projects in planning phase in order to help the people living in the drought area. This includes for example also a sponsorship programme for local families.

By means of this programme, the needy people at Melkadida and among the local inhabitants of the Ethiopian Somali region will not only receive medical help.

Hope for the people in the drought regions. humedica projects help. Photo: humedica/Sven Ramones

The people, the families and children living there need more than that. They urgently need to know that there is someone there who takes care of them. They need to know that they are not left alone. They need hope."

This relief aid can be implemented thanks to the generous support of Kindernothilfe e.V. and Sternstunden e.V., the charity campaign of the Bayerischer Rundfunk radio station, as well as thanks to numerous other private and institutional donors.

However, our thanks also goes to all the humedica mission team members who have so far been active in Ethiopia and whose persistent and unwavering work has been indispensable for the implementation of our current tasks in the drought regions of the country.

Dear friends and sponsors: please continue supporting our efforts to help those who have slid into misery without any fault of their own in the drought regions of Ethiopia and other regions at the Horn of Africa and to give them hope also in future. 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 make a donation via our online form or by means of sending a text message: send a text message containing the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90 and you will make a donation of 5 euros, with 4.83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into the humedica project work.

Thank you very much for your support! Photo: humedica/Sven Ramones

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