Ongoing Care for Fleeing Families in Ethiopia

20th June 2022

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Samaritan’s Purse continues to provide lifesaving medical care to displaced families in a conflict-torn region.

Tayech Melkamu* had been afraid for several days as her 10-year-old daughter, Miheret,* grew more and more weak.

Tayech Melkamu* and her 10-year-old daughter, Miheret, are grateful for the treatment that saved the young girl’s life.

Tayech Melkamu* and her 10-year-old daughter, Miheret, are grateful for the treatment that saved the young girl’s life.

“I began to lose hope,” Tayech said. “After all this crisis, and now my child was sick.”

The Samaritan’s Purse team in Ethiopia met Tayech and her daughter at one of our Mobile Medical Unit sites, among four such medical outposts operating in northern Ethiopia as part of our ongoing relief response in the region.

At the end of a very long year, Tayech had arrived with her three youngest children at Jarra Refugee Camp in Amhara Province, Ethiopia.

Her two oldest sons, who also provided most of the family’s income, had to flee the year before to avoid being forced into an armed group occupying their town.

“When they refused [to join],” Tayech said, “their lives were threatened, and they faced severe beating and flogging. They had to leave to save their lives.”

After her sons left, she worked hard for over a year to avoid leaving their home. But over the course of that time, their income dwindled to the little money earned from cooking for others or selling household items. She couldn’t feed her own kids. In desperation, she left.

Lifesaving Medical Care in Camp

When they arrived in Jarra camp, Miheret was already very sick and Tayech realised it was more than just the intense heat. The persistent cough and lesion on her head were symptoms of something more serious. Within a few days, the daughter was also having trouble walking, or even standing up.

Miheret is happy to be healthy enough to enjoy new friends even in the midst of the IDP camp.

Miheret is happy to be healthy enough to enjoy new friends even in the midst of the IDP camp.

“That’s when I picked her up and carried her on my back,” she said, recalling the day she decided to bring Miheret to our mobile medical unit located in the camp.

One of our doctors ran a lab test, which very quickly confirmed a diagnosis of heart failure. Immediately we put her on IV medications and transported the pair by ambulance to a nearby hospital. The mother’s quick decision to bring Miheret to our medical unit, combined with the quick work of our team, saved the girl’s life. Thank God!

“If my daughter had not received help immediately, she could have passed away that day,” Tayech said. “Coming here was like having my daughter born to me again.”

Ongoing Medical Response in Ethiopia

Our mobile medical units provide triage, screenings, basic primary care services, and referrals to hospitals for more complex medical conditions. In some areas we are also providing psychiatry services, pharmaceuticals, and lab work.

Our medical teams are seeing hundreds of patients a day at mobile medical units throughout northern Ethiopia.

Our medical teams are seeing hundreds of patients a day at mobile medical units throughout northern Ethiopia.

“The needs are great here,” said Sarah Benson, a medical coordinator for Samaritan’s Purse serving in northern Ethiopia. “When we arrived, only minimal care was being provided by local governments, and the population of displaced people grew exponentially. That’s when they requested our help.”

Dr. Sied Merbu, an Ethiopian physician serving with Samaritan’s Purse, says the mobile medical units are having a significant impact.

“In our location, we are seeing more than 100 patients a day,” he said. “Many lives are being saved through the work here and throughout the country.”

More than 1.7 million Ethiopians have been displaced from their homes because of conflict, and Samaritan’s Purse has been providing medical and food relief in the region since February 2021, which required multiple airlifts aboard out DC-8. We continue to care for these hurting communities through our food distribution and medical care. We have also helped provide struggling medical centers with supplies and equipment so they can become fully operational again.

Since February 2021, Samaritan’s Purse has been responding in northern Ethiopia with medical relief and food for displaced people.

Since February 2021, Samaritan’s Purse has been responding in northern Ethiopia with medical relief and food for displaced people.

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