Twenty-year-old, Mohammed walked for six days to reach the Ethiopian border, fleeing from the severe drought in his hometown of Bokol in Northern Somalia. With hardly any food to eat along the way, Mohammed made the long trek to seek the humanitarian assistance he had been told he could receive in Dolo Ado, Ethiopia by his neighbors. Upon arrival at the camp complex, he was registered as a refugee and stayed at the transit center in Dolo Ado for 15 days before he was moved to more permanent housing in Kobe refugee camp. Mohammed has now been living for six months at Kobe where International Medical Corps provides critical nutrition, sanitation and hygiene services.
Soon after he arrived, Mohammed was recruited by International Medical Corps as a Hygiene Promoter, a critical component to reducing the threat of communicable diseases in the crowded camps. Hygiene Promoters share their knowledge throughout their communities of proper hand washing techniques, the importance of using latrines as opposed to common local practices like open defecation and cleaning jerry cans used to hold drinking water.
True to our mission of fostering self-reliance, International Medical Corps is working to train local community members in Dolo Ado in hygiene promotion as well as sanitation, nutrition and gender-based violence response, among other topics. The benefits are two-fold – by training locals we create employment for a community that is struggling to rebuild, as well as create sustainable health solutions.
Mohammed says that being trained to be a Hygiene Promoter at Kobe was “the turning point in my life.” Prior to this, Mohammed had never been employed, never been able to earn a salary and had never received any formal education.
“…with the power of knowledge I have received through trainings on hygiene promotion, I am now able to improve sanitation and hygiene practices in my community,” says Mohammed. “I now know that diarrhea can be prevented by using a latrine and by washing hands with soap and water and am in a position to pass on the message of safe hygiene practices and behavior to my fellow community members. I will thank International Medical Corps one day when I reach home!”