Meeting Refugees’ Basic Needs: Fatuma’s Story
By Jenna Montgomery, International Medical Corps
Fatuma is a 36-year-old mother of 5 living in the Melkadida refugee camp in Ethiopia. Due to increasing violence in the region, Fatuma fled Somalia with her family in 2011 enduring a long, seven-day journey before arriving at the camp. In Somalia, Fatuma worked as a trader, in the camp she spends her time taking care of her children.
Fatuma has greatly benefited from International Medical Corps sanitation and hygiene programs in the camp. She attributes her family’s current healthy status to the valuable lessons she learned and is now implementing. She learned that using a washing basin separate from the potties her two children now use has greatly reduced her family’s risk of communicable disease. International Medical Corps also taught Fatuma about personal hygiene, safe water handling and storage, environmental cleanliness, solid and liquid waste management and diarrheal prevention.
Fatuma says International Medical Corps helped ‘save her family’ and is thankful for the critical supplies our staff was able to provide so her family can practice healthy hygiene and sanitation. These items include jerry cans, a washing basin, a three-liter cleansing container, potties, and laundry and bathing soap. Fatuma says, “I have no worry now for such things that I can’t afford to buy. Without the support of International Medical Corps, it will be challenging for us even to buy soap and keep our children and the family healthy.”
International Medical Corps has been delivering WASH programs in Melkadida for the past two years. Since then, there has been a significant reduction in WASH-related diseases among the refugee community. “International Medical Corps has not stopped providing us knowledge and has also helped us change our knowledge into practices,” says Fatuma. “It was worthwhile and the basis for keeping my family healthy.”