Two women – one common fate

by Sven Ramones,  2011/09/03

In order to survive, they had to leave behind their normal lives. Entire families fled their homes, taking with them only what they could carry themselves.

Melkadida: ten thousands of people who are sharing the same fate and the same misery. Photo: humedica/Sven Ramones

They hoped to find peace and a place to live. But the journey to get there was far from easy. It rather involved serious dangers.

Many of those who live at the Melkadida refugee camp, already shared a similar fate on their journey to the camp. Hunger, drought and violence were the reasons they left their home country Somalia. Often, they travelled for days or weeks in order to reach the reception camp at Dollo Ado.

The stories of Halima and Sururo, two young mothers who fled their home country with their families, are representative for the fate of thousands of people here at Melkadida. Now they have escaped the fights and are provided for, but life at the refugee camps remains extremely hard.

Halima: difficult journey into insecurity

Halima is 17 years old. She has been living at Melkadida for a few days now. The mother of three children and her husband were forced to flee their home due to the drought and violent riots in Somalia. It was hunger, she tells us shyly, that caused them to set out on the difficult journey.

For two days, the family travelled day and night in order to make the about 40 kilometres from Belehawa, Somalia to Dollo Ado. On his donkey cart, Halima’s husband took her, their two daughters and their son through the desert to Ethiopia.

Despite her hard fate, young Halima accepts her life: “We accept what God gives us.” Photo: humedica/Sven Ramones

On their way they were again and again stopped and controlled by heavily armed militia fighters. It is not hard to imagine the fear and danger the young family had to go through. Only when they reached the reception camp of Dollo Ado were they safe and received some food.

However, the exertions and the difficult living conditions at camp took their toll on the family. Nasteko, their five month old son, suffered from high fever. Therefore, Halima took him to the health station of Melkadida, where the humedica doctor team treats the patients.

With antipyretic means, the doctors fought to improve the infant’s critical state of health. Halima and Nasteko were accepted to the in-patient department of the Health Centre until the child’s state of health would improve.

Life at camp is normal for her, says Halima: “We accept what God gives us”. The family does not have any plans for the future. They do not know where to go. They are not sure if they will be able to go back or if they are going to stay here at Melkadida.

Sururo: in unwanted and unfamiliar dependency

Also Sururo lives at Melkadida. The 30-year old women has been living at the camp for four months. Together with her husband and their four children they fled from Rahole in Somalia across the border to Dollo Ado. They, too, were forced to leave their home due to the terrible drought and the misery that was brought on by the lack of rain.

Undernourished and suffering from skin eczema: the cumbersome journey and living conditions at the camps took their toll. Photo: humedica/Sven Ramones

With a rented car the family also set out on a journey into an insecure future. The former Somali cattle farmers had to pay more than one million Somali shilling for the car. The only possibility for them to afford this amount was to sell even their last remaining animals.

On their way, Sururo and her family got caught by militia fighters; they were held up and kidnapped. Only after several days did the rebels release Sururo, her husband and the children and took their car. The family finally reached the refugee camp coming out of the middle of nowhere and completely left on their own.

When we met Sururo at Melkadida, she was waiting in the queue that had formed prior to a food distribution. In her arms she was carrying her youngest child. She showed us the eczema that covered the baby's head.

We took her with us to see our humedica doctor at the children's ward of the Melkadida Health Centre. The examination revealed that the child was suffering from scabies. Although treatment with a special ointment will improve the child’s state of health, living conditions at the refugee camps of Dollo Ado will continue to cause this kind of diseases among the refugees.

Life here is completely different”, said Sururo. “At home in Somalia we were able to provide for ourselves. Here, we depend on other persons to take care of us.

The family is awaiting the day when there will be piece and order once more in their home country and when the draught will be over. They hope they will be able to return to their home then.

Let us fight the consequences of famine together. Thank you very much!

Up to that day, they will have to stay here, as do about 40,000 other women, men and children at the Melkadida refugee camp. Please continue supporting our relief measures for these people who are living in misery without any fault of their own. 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.

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