Images and film shot on assignment for Caritas Australia as part of the Project Compassion 2019 appeal.
An estimated 2.1 billion people worldwide still do not have access to clean fresh drinking water.
For Thandalwayao, a 12 year old girl living in Zimbabwe, this meant having to walk 3.5km twice a day down a steep dangerous hill to collect dirty river water. Carrying a five-litre container, this often left her exhausted and ill, affecting her schooling and her dreams of becoming a nurse.
“I went to school tired after collecting water and my performance at school was low.” – Thandolwayo
To help overcome this, her community teamed up with Caritas Australia partner Caritas Hwange to build a solar powered water pump to draw water up from the river through filtration stations and into two 10,000 litre storage tanks. A tap was set up near the local primary school providing the whole community with unlimited fresh, clean water which has transformed their lives and futures.
“Life has really changed as a result of the tap because now I can bathe every day. I now go to school feeling fresh. We now drink clean, safe water and diseases are no longer affecting us.” – Thandalwayao
The images below and the film above were shot for Caritas Australia for their annual Project Compassion fundraising campaign.
The front page image used on the campaign website and fundraising materials.
Thandolwayo and her grandmother Regina sit outside their kitchen.
Thandolwayo lives with her grandmother Regina in Msuna Hills, one of the most marginalised villages in Hwange district, Zimbabwe. The village has a population of 500 people, comprising of 58 households.
Around 72 percent of Zimbabwe’s population is living below the poverty line. Thandolwayo’s community is also plagued by ongoing droughts, food and water scarcity and poor sanitation.
An aerial view of Thandolwayo and Regina her grandmother grinding millet in their homestead.
Her father left several years ago and her mother lives in a town 90 kilometres away where she works as a casual labourer. Her older sister also moved away to attend secondary school. Thandolwayo attends the local school which has just 35 students and two teachers.
“I’m so proud that tap water has been brought to this community during my lifetime,” says Thandolwayo’s grandmother, Regina. “We now have enough time and energy to do other work to make life better. Thandolwayo can eat three meals a day and she can concentrate much better at school. We hope she will excel and get a good job and take care of her family.”
Thandolwayo drinks from the new water pipe in Msuna Hills.
Thandolwayo drinks from the new water pipe in Msuna Hills.
Before the tap was installed, every morning before school, Thandolwayo used to walk 3.5 kilometres with the other women and girls to the Gwayi River and back again. Carrying a five litre container, she would traverse a rocky, mountainous path to collect water for her family and her teacher. Exhausted from hours fetching and carrying water, she’d then start her day at school.
Thandolwayo walks along the banks of the Gweyi river where she used to collect dirty water from before a new water pipe was installed in her village.
Thandolwayo demonstrates how she used to fill up her water container with dirty water.
Thandolwayo shows dirty water from the Gweyi river that she and her community had to drink before a new water pipe was installed in her village.
“I never liked going down to Gwayi River but I had no choice because we had no other source of water.” – Thandolwayo
Thandolwayo walks back up a steep hill back to her village after collecting dirty water from the Gweyi river.
Thandolwayo walks past Baobab trees after collecting dirty water from the Gweyi river.
In 2017, Caritas Australia partnered with Caritas Hwange to help the community to install two solar-powered pumps to draw the water up from the river, as well as two 10,000 litre storage tanks.
Super Dube, Diocesan Co-ordinator Caritas Hwange talks to community members from Msuna Hills during a meeting next to the new water tanks and tap.
Thandolwayo(centre) in seen during lessons at Msuna Primary School. “I went to school tired after collecting water and my performance at school was low.”
Shirley, an indigenous Manide woman from the remote Camarines Norte province in the Philippines, has overcome discrimination, poverty and inequality to train as a Tribal Health Worker. She is now able to support her family, send her children to school and has become a leader in her community, standing up for their rights and better health outcomes.
Shirley was the lead story for the Caritas Australia Project Compassion 2020 campaign which launched earlier this year, just as coronavirus was starting to spread through the Philippines and the rest of the world. Her role as a Tribal Health Worker has now become even more crucial.
We spent a week with Shirley in her community, documenting her story in film and images, which were used in this year’s campaign.
The approximately 17 million indigenous people in the Philippines are some of the most vulnerable in the nation, suffering discrimination, high rates of ill health and displacement from their ancestral lands.
Shirley, who is married and has two sons and two daughters, are members of the Manide people who were once a semi nomadic community. She now lives with 15 other Manide families in a new settled community alongside non-indigenous families, set up in 2006 with assistance from the Philippines government.
Shirley conducts home health visits in her Manide community in Camarines Norte, Philippines.
A general view of the Manide community where Shirley lives.
Shirley with her family, Reymark (16), husband Ernesto, Althea (14) and in front Angelo (5) and Angel (8) in their community in Camarines Norte.
Shirley poses for a picture with members of her Manide community outside their Tribal Hall.
After meeting local Caritas Australia partner SPACFI, Shirley was encouraged to train as a Tribal Health Worker with the aim of becoming a much needed and trusted intermediary between her community and government health care services. Historically, the Manide had trouble accessing health care due to discrimination and their fear of mixing with non-indigenous people.
Shirley prepares multivitamins drops for a child at the local government health clinic near her Manide community.
Now qualified, Shirley works in the local government health clinic as well as conducting home visits within her community.
Shirley said, “When I became a health worker, my tribe gained the confidence to visit the health centre. I became the voice of my tribe to have their needs heard. As a trained health worker, I am confident to talk, to mingle with non-indigenous people, even with government employees.”
Shirley has been trained as a Tribal Health Worker and works in the local government run health clinic as well as conducting home visits within her community.
The aim of the SPACFI program is to help Manide people overcome any sense of inferiority brought about by the discrimination and marginalisation they have experienced. It has supported them in advocating for their land rights, getting better employment, and improving their access to health, education, housing and sanitation.
Shirley talks with Eric, a community organiser with SPACFI, whilst conducting home health visits in her Manide community.
Shirley records the blood pressure of an elderly Manide community member as part of a home health visit in their community.
Through the program, Shirley has received training and workshops which has contributed to her awareness and rights as an indigenous person.
SPACFI’s Community Development Worker, Eric Encinas said, “
“To have Shirley as a representative for indigenous people gives courage to the community. The most significant change in this community is the affirmation of their right to be heard, right to education, right to participate in community activities.”
A mother and child from Shirley’s Manide community look out from their traditional hut.
Shirley (right) talks with a mother and child sitting outside their traditional hut whilst conducting home health visits.
Since taking on the role, fewer children in Shirley’s community are now sick or malnourished and more are going to school due to greater acceptance of the Manide people.
Shirley said, “My job assists indigenous people to visit the health centre to get their kids vaccinated. We no longer have cases of severe diseases. “
Manide children run through their community where Shirley lives. Since gaining access to medical care the children are now healthier.
Shirley herself has experienced many forms of discrimination. She recalled an occasion when a Jeepney driver insisted Shirley and other community members ride on top of the vehicle instead of inside. Shirley fought back, saying , “It’s too hot on the roof, why should I sit on the roof ?”. They stood their ground and explained to the driver they were all equal and wouldn’t follow his instructions but would wait for another Jeepney. The driver relented and they continued their journey inside.
Shirley flags down a local Jeepney near to her home. She recalled an occasion when the driver insisted Shirley and other community members ride on top of the vehicle instead of inside.
Her community often faces discrimination from non-indigenous people.
Shirley believes much of the discrimination comes from her tribe’s lack of education and feeling of inferiority. Most of the older generation of Manide people are illiterate due to their nomadic living and discrimination at school.
All of Shirley’s children now attend school, including her two youngest, Angel (8) and Angelo (5) who go to a nearby mixed indigenous and non-indigenous school. SPACFI helps all the Manide children with access to schooling by assisting with fees, uniforms and school supplies.
Shirley combs Angel’s hair at home as Angelo plays before leaving for the local school.
Shirley helps Angelo into his school uniform at home. Most of the older generation of Manide people are illiterate due to their nomadic living and discrimination.
Poorly educated herself while growing up, Shirley had to survive collecting materials in the forests to make slippers out of dried banana bark to then sell. Understanding the importance of education in breaking the cycle of poverty and discrimination, Shirley said,
“My dream is to be able to provide for my kids and have them finish their studies. Finishing school is important to end bullying of indigenous people.”
Shirley’s children attend school with the help of SPACFI who assist with fees, uniforms and school supplies.
Angel (8), youngest daughter of Shirley, is seen during lessons at her local school close to her Manide community. The school is a mixed indigenous and non-indigenous school.
Shirley also recently took over her father’s role as tribal chieftain and now represents her people on her local health board. As a community leader, she helps Manide people to access medicine, vaccines, healthcare and nutritional advice.
Shirley is the tribal leader of her community, a position passed down from her father.
Shirley and her community are part of the Caritas Australia funded project run by local partner SPACFI. It helps strengthen their capacities to advocate for their rights over their ancestral lands, securing cultural conservation and integrity.
Manide community members listen as Shirley leads a discussion next to the Tribal Hall.
The program enhances their capacity to access health, education, safe drinking water, housing support and sanitation.
Shirley said, : There are good things that happened here in our tribe. Our kids are healthier, I’m proud of what I’ve done for my tribe.”
Images and film shot on assignment for Caritas Australia as part of the Project Compassion 2018 appeal.
Janaki was forced to marry at 12 years old into an abusive family in Surkhet district, Western Nepal. Despite losing her husband three years later and being ostracised by her community, she now runs a successful tailoring business and is a strong advocate against domestic violence and forced marriage.
Janaki was at school when her family situation changed her life.
‘While I was studying, our economic status was poor and my parents had to go to India for medical treatment. Being the eldest, I had to manage all the household work and send my brother and sisters to school, after that I could to go school.” Janaki said.
Then her grandparents followed tradition and forced Janaki into an arranged marriage with abusive in laws. Her mother and father were unaware about her marriage, but her grandparents insisted she was married before their death.
“At the age of 12, I was forced into marriage although I was not ready for it. I can’t even explain the hardship I had to face at my husband’s house. ” – Janaki
‘Although I used to give my best, my father and mother in law were never satisfied and they used to scold me for no reason. I used to share my pain with my husband but he used to say to me to ignore these thing and convince me by saying they are old so not to take it seriously.’ she said.
Janaki pictured sitting on her bed at her family home in Surkhet district in Western Nepal. Janaki returned home after being forced into marriage aged 12 and her husband died three years later from typhoid.
Three years into the marriage, her situation became even more precarious when her husband fell ill with typhoid. They couldn’t afford to get him medical treatment and he died. Her in laws blamed her for his death and she was ostracised by them and her community.
Her parents had returned from India, so Janaki went home. She explained, “I used to cry every day and every night. The neighbours and villagers used to backbite against me. After the tragedy of my husband, everyone tried to force me to remarry. I was so frustrated that I thought that my life was a waste. Slowly I realised that I needed to move on and learn some skills.”
Janaki talks with her mother Khima in their kitchen. Khima and her husband, Dhan where in India seeking medical care when the grandparents followed tradition and arranged for Janaki to be married aged 12.
A view overlooking the main street in the town where Janaki lives in Surkhet district, Western Nepal. High levels of poverty and traditional practices contribute to the elevated incidents of child marriage.
After meeting a local Caritas staff member, Janaki was encouraged to join a youth club, run by the Ekata Foundation in her village as part of their Children and Youth Empowerment Program (CYEP).
CYEP helps over 14,000 children and young people each year. It increases the knowledge and leadership qualities of children and youth from disadvantaged families, through the formation of clubs, information centres, networks and libraries. It also provides jobs skills and helps them to create income-generating projects.
Through the club Janaki gained access to a tailoring course and after three months she was one of the best students from the forty participants. The club then organised a loan to buy a machine and she set up her own business.
‘Everybody used to doubt me but I stood on my determination to learn tailoring skills.’ – Janaki
Janaki was encouraged to join a youth club as part of the Caritas Australia, Children and Youth Empowerment Program (CYEP) which improved her confidence and provided her with sewing training and on completion, a loan to buy her own machine.
Janaki (left) demonstrating cutting techniques to Khagisara, one of her trainees. Janaki teaches other vulnerable women and youth in her community how to sew so they too can be empowered and earn a living.
Eight years on and Janaki now has eleven machines and runs her business from a workshop next to the family home. She is repaying her loan and can afford to look after her family and support her brothers and sisters with their education.
Feeling the need to help others, she also trains eighteen other vulnerable women, many victims of child marriage themselves, to allow them a fresh start in life.
‘Our sisters who are becoming victims of domestic violence, I wish them to learn this skill so that they can be independent and show themselves to the society that women are not backward. My dream is to help all those sisters in need and make them stable. ‘ – Janaki
Janaki with her trainees, many of whom have experienced child marriage or domestic violence. Janaki now runs a successful business and has 11 sewing machines to use for her classes.
With increased confidence in herself, Janaki joined the committee at her youth network and soon became its leader. She started to help organise regular campaigns looking into issues affecting their community such as child marriage, domestic violence and workers’ rights.
“I needed to be a leader and serve my community. Alone we cannot do anything. Unity has to be there.” – Janaki
Janaki (centre) and other members of the Youth Network walk through their village to put up advocacy posters about the issue of child marriage.
Janaki putting up an anti-child marriage poster as part of a youth club initiative.
The youth club also stages regular dramas for the community as an educational tool to raise awareness and to facilitate group discussion on sensitive subjects, such as child marriage.
Members of the youth club re-enact a child marriage.
Janaki (right) plays the mother in a drama about the issues of child marriage organised by the Youth Network in front of the local community.
The community now see Janaki as a role model and a strong vocal advocate against domestic violence and forced marriage.
‘Janaki said, ‘I’m happy that I’m motivating and teaching other women like me so that they can make themselves self-dependent. I can feel the change in the behaviour of my neighbour towards me. Before they used to see me with eyes of sympathy and pity. Now they appreciate my work and things have changed a lot.’
‘After the training and motivation from the youth network, I feel like now I am not alone. I have my family and my friends from the youth club. ‘ -Janaki
With increased confidence and skills, Janaki has become a leader in the Youth Club and an inspiration to other young people.
Rattanak is a skilled young barber, living an independent life in rural Cambodia. But it wasn’t always that way. As a child he contracted polio and also became deaf. Like many people who are deaf or hard of hearing, Rattanak faced isolation at home, unable to communicate with his family or community until being introduced to the Deaf Development Program (DDP), based in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.
There are over 51,000 deaf people in Cambodia but DDP is the only deaf training school open to adults. The Deaf Development Program (DDP) is run by Caritas Australia partner, Maryknoll Cambodia, and provides sign language, job training and interpreting services to people aged 16 and over who are deaf or hard of hearing. The centre is also raising awareness about deafness in wider Cambodian society.
Rattanak inside his barber shop in Kandal province, Cambodia.
Most students in DDP spend two years learning Khmer sign language, literacy, numeracy and life skills then spend a year on a job training course such as sewing, cooking, barbering, wood carving, metal crafts, electrical fan repairing, beauty and hair dressing. The aim is to give deaf people a path to an independent future.
Students are taught Khmer sign language at the Deaf Development Program (DDP) school in Phnom Penh.
Students are taught Khmer sign language by DDP teacher Sokhary at the Deaf Development Program (DDP).
‘Deaf people need sign language in order to communicate but their parents cannot sign, their neighbours cannot sign. Deaf people are among their family but in fact they are isolated.’ – Sokly, Deaf Development Program, Co-Director
Students are also taught how to write in Khmer and take maths and social science classes as part of the two year course.
Students are taught Khmer sign language by DDP teacher Sokhary at the Deaf Development Program (DDP) school in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.
DDP set up a Barber Shop next to their head office in Phnom Penh to enable their students to gain practical experience. The trainees practice on each other and the general public can also walk in for a discounted hair cut.
Trainees are taught how to cut hair in the Deaf Development Program (DDP) job training project Barber Shop which is located next to the head office of DDP in Phnom Penh.
Students of the Deaf Development Program’s barber course getting practical experience, enabling them to master their trade.
“The goal of the Deaf Development Program is to help deaf people achieve independence and to be respected and accepted in all aspects of Cambodian society.” – Sokly, Deaf Development Program, Co-Director
Trainees are taught how to cut hair in the Deaf Development Program (DDP) job training project Barber Shop which is located next to the head office of DDP in Phnom Penh.
Rattanak studied Cambodian sign language, Khmer writing, social sciences and maths, for two years before learning his trade as a barber. After graduating in 2012, he set up a barbershop outside his family home about an hours drive from Phnom Penh, which has since proven to be highly successful.
Rattanak cutting a clients hair in his barber shop which is located in front of his home in Kandal province, Cambodia.
“Because of DDP, I’ve had the opportunity to develop and to learn and increase my knowledge, now I’m much more confident in everything that I do,” Rattanak says.
Rattanak cuts a young boys hair with his mother looking. Rattanak learnt valuable technical skills from the Deaf Development Program and runs a successful barber shop.
Rattanak checks his social media accounts on his phone whilst waiting for clients at his home in Kandal province, Cambodia.
Social media became a big part of Rattanak’s life to not only communicate with friends but also watching educational YouTube videos about hairdressing. After he was introduced to his wife hearing Phirom, he used to talk to her through social media and after they were married in 2016 he taught her sign language. They are now expecting their first baby.
Rattanak with his wife Phirom in their home in Kandal province, Cambodia.
Rattanak (centre) communicates with family members in their home in Kandal province, Cambodia.
After finishing his training with the Deaf Development Program, Rattanak is now able to sign in Khmer and has a thriving business styling hair.
“Rattanak is a good example. He’s very independent and he can make his own money, he can save money, he can set up his family, he got married and started a family. His future is bright, there is no going back. His life can only improve for the better.” Sokly, Deaf Development Program, Co-Director
Rattanak waits for clients outside his barber shop in Kandal province, Cambodia.
I travelled with Act for Peace CEO Janet Cousens to Jamtoli refugee camp in Bangladesh to document how their partner CAID were providing assistance to the more than 52,000 people who had sought shelter there.
Jamtoli is just one of many camps that now provide shelter for over 700,000 refugees who fled Myanmar following an upsurge in violence in August 2017 by the Myanmar army in the state of Rakhine.
Below are some of the images and an appeal film shot during our time there. It was the 65th anniversary of the Christmas Bowl this year so if you’d like to make a donation please click on Christmas Bowl 2018.
The full portfolio of images can be seen here. (Names have been changed to protect identities.)
Ayesha (23) sits with her daughters Hasina (2) and Shafiqa (5) in their shelter in Jamtoli Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Her son Sami, who was 16 days old when the Myanmar army attacked her village, died during the journey to Bangladesh.
Ayesha (23) and her family were one of the first families we met in the camp. Whilst cradling her youngest daughter Hasina (2), Ayesha told us how she had given birth to her son Sami 16 days before the Myanmar army attacked her village. She had to flee at night in the rain with her husband Zubai (26) and her two daughters Shafiqa (5) and Hasina (2), towards the Naf river, hoping to cross into Bangladesh.
With few possessions and no money, they had to pay a boatman with their remaining marital gold to cross the river, but the water levels were so low they had to jump into the river and cross the mud flats. Her children became wet and covered in mud but had no choice but to continue. When they eventually made it to the safety of Bangladesh there wasn’t any food, water or shelter. He son Sami died soon after from being exposed to the wet and cold.
Ayesha (23) with husband Zubai (26) and daughters Shafiqa (5) and Hasina (2) in their shelter in Jamtoli Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. They lost most of their possessions when fleeing their village.
They were eventually directed to Jamtoli where a new spontaneous settlement was growing daily during those first few chaotic weeks of the crisis and were allocated a shelter.
Ayesha (23) bathes her daughter Hasina (2) outside her home which is next to the Community Kitchen in Jamtoli Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.
Eight months on and Ayesha now has access to water and food and the family have been provided with cooking and hygiene materials from aid agencies such as Act for Peace but life remains harsh in the cramped and unhealthy conditions of the camp and there is little hope of a safe return anytime soon.
Ayesha (23) looks out of her shelter in Jamtoli Rohingya refugee camp. Ayesha had given birth to her son Sami 16 days before the Myanmar army raided her village forcing her family to flee into Bangladesh. Due to the arduous journey in cold weather and lack of food and water, Sami didn’t survive.
On the two hour daily drive south from the city of Cox’s Bazar you pass the sprawling mega camp of Kutupalong and on first arriving at Jamtoli camp it can seem overwhelming and disorientating to the senses. Looking at the barren, denuded hills crammed with endless shelters constructed of plastic sheeting and bamboo, it’s hard to image that Jamtoli was once a small, thickly forested farming village of local-born ethnic Bangladeshis.
Jamtoli Rohingya refugee camp is now home to over 57,000 and exists just south of the mega camps that host over 700,000 in the region of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
Inside every one of the shelters, a story of loss and tragedy can be found but also of survival and resilience. Mohammed (12) and his sister Noor (10) were at home the night their village was attacked and their family fled to the Naf river. As they hid on the banks, looking for a way to cross, they were fired upon. They saw their mother and father shot dead and then their youngest brother was also killed. They now live with their uncle and his extended family.
With very few psycho social services available in the camp, they go to a Women and Child Friendly Space each day to try and regain some sense of normality in their lives and be children again.
Mohammed (12) and his sister Noor (10) are pictured inside their tent in Jamtoli Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar. They saw their parents and youngest brother shot dead whilst trying to cross into Bangladesh. They now live with their uncle and extended family.
Children arrive at one of the Women and Child Friendly Spaces.
The centres provide a safe place to go and participate in activities such as drawing, telling stories, ABC’s and indoor games and is run by Act for Peace partner Gana Unnayan Kendra (GUK). Most of the teachers are volunteers from the local community. Noor said she liked to draw pictures of flowers and birds. At the time there was no formal education system set up in the camps and Mohammed said he was afraid of missing out on his education but enjoyed going to the centre anyway and wanted to become teacher.
Noor (10) (right) is seen drawing with friends at a Women and Child Friendly Space in Jamtoli Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar. Noor witnessed her parents and youngest brother killed whilst fleeing into Bangladesh.
Mohammed (12) (centre) joins in learning with other children at a Women and Child Friendly Space in Jamtoli Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazaar.
The need for basics such as food, water and medical care remain critical. Malnutrition is a major concern and close to emergency levels in the camps.
Children line up to be seen at a satellite medical clinic in Jamtoli Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar. Between the main health centre and five satellite clinics DAM sees between 1200 to 1500 patients a day.
Whilst interviewing Dr Hassan, one of the volunteer doctors from Dhaka working for Act for Peace partner DAM, Farida arrived at the clinic with her sons Min (7) and Yasin (11). They were diagnosed with a skin disorder related to malnutrition.
Farida looks on as her son Min (7) is treated by Dr Hassan for a skin disorder caused by malnutrition at a health centre in Jamtoli Rohingya refugee camp.
Farida told us her husband, who had been imprisoned and tortured, fled Burma after the army burnt down their home and three of their children died in the fire. It took them fifteen days to reach Jamtoli and they now live with their seven remaining children in the camp.
Dr Hassan from (DAM) looks at a skin disorder on the arms of Min (7) caused by malnutrition at a health centre in Jamtoli Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.
Dr Hassan from (DAM) looks at a skin disorder on the arms of Yasin (11) and his brother Min (7) caused by malnutrition at a health centre in Jamtoli Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar. Malnutrition in the camps is a major concern.
They were prescribed treatment for the skin disorder and referred to a specialist malnutrition clinic.
Having fled without any possessions, at least 80% of the new arrivals are entirely dependent on humanitarian aid for survival so distributions of food and non food items are carried out almost every day.
Rice and other items are distributed by aid agencies in Jamtoli Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.
Women collect non food items at a distribution centre in Jamtoli Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.
Over 58% of the refugees are women and children so the risk of gender based violence is high. One of the greatest risks to women and children are when they have to walk miles looking for firewood for cooking. Community Kitchens have been set up around the camp offering safe, clean, gas provided cooking spaces, but they also function as a place for women to meet and share their stories which helps with their psychosocial well-being.
Jamila (40) pictured outside her shelter in Jamtoli Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazaar. Jamila suffers from depression after her son, brother and nephew were shot by the Burmese Army.
Jamila (40) uses a kitchen next to her shelter where she lives with her husband, five sons and two daughters. Jamila suffers from depression after her eldest son, brother and nephew were shot by the Burmese Army. She says when she is in the Community Kitchen with her friends her depression is lifted but when she is alone it returns.
Jamila (40) (right) talks with friends whilst cooking lentils for her family in a Community Kitchen in Jamtoli Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar. Jamila says when she is in the Community Kitchen with her friends her depression is lifted but when she is alone it returns.
The kitchens also reduce environmental degradation caused by deforestation and without them, families have to cook in their tents creating smoke and fire hazards.
Jamila (40) (centre) serves up lentils she has just cooked in a Community Kitchen in Jamtoli Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.
In the hot and humid conditions, access to fresh clean drinking water becomes a priority. Whilst there are water pumps installed in the camp, some families still face challengers in accessing them.
Razia (10) and Sufaira (13) who are friends are seen collecting water in Jamtoli Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.
Sufaira (13) and her friend Razia (10) have to make the difficult, tiring and dangerous journey down and up a steep hill between three and ten times a day to collect water. Their families arrived later at the camp and the only space they could find to build a shelter was on the wind swept brow of a hill.
Razia (10) and Sufaira (13) are pictured outside their home after collecting water from a water pump at the bottom of the hill in Jamtoli Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.
Sufaira (13) said, ‘It’s a very painful journey and we have fallen many times. My mother broken her arm collecting water. “ They are hoping a water pump can be installed nearer to their home.
The flow of refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh has slowed but violence and persecution in Rakhine state continues. In November 2018 there was an attempt to start repatriation of refugees back to Myanmar but few, if anyone, volunteered and the plans were halted.
A general view of Jamtoli Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.
The need to provide the basics for survival in the camps is essential. Below is a short appeal video that we shot and donations can be made here.
A farming project in Zimbabwe was chosen as this years focus for the Act for Peace Christmas Bowl appeal with Jessina and her amazing family showing how it’s done. Below are some images and video from the two trips taken during different seasons. If you want to learn more or donate please click on Christmas Bowl 2016.
Jessina has been a member of the Conservation Farming program for four years and the family is now considered food secure. Before joining the program, the land they farmed didn’t produce enough maize to feed the family or send their children to school. With a changing climate, prolonged drought and irregular rainfall patterns, the family was becoming increasingly vulnerable.
Jessina on the front of the campaign brochure.
Jessina was introduced to the program run by local partners Christian Care and after the first year she had produced enough food for her family and was able to sell the surplus maize and buy a goat for breeding. In the second year she was able to buy her children new clothes and pay school fees.
“I’m now in my third year, and I have many goats, turkeys, guinea fowl and chickens. “ Jessina said.
Jesina standing with her family outside their home in Zaka district, Zimbabwe.
Christian Care have run the program since 2004 and teach farmers techniques such as using year round mulching to lock in moisture and planting at the correct time so that a crop will be possible even in the driest conditions.
Apolonia helps her mother Jesina carry mulch for their newly planted maize fields at their home in Zaka district, Zimbabwe.
Zaka district where Jessina lives is experiencing an unusually long dry spell which has badly affected her first crop of this season. Although she is concerned about not being able to produce a big crop this year, she now has enough maize in reserve and the ability to sell some livestock to pay for food and school fees.
“Even if we do not get good rains I’m confident I can move ahead and sell my goats and turkeys I have got from conservation farming.”
Stanley (6) holds a goat outside his home. Jesina was able to buy a goat for breeding after using conservation farming techniques
Below is a video I shot on the first trip and some more images. Mitch also shot a beautiful video on the second trip which can be seen here.
Joyce Chauke (57), a conservation farmer inspects her field of maize in Chitanga Village in Mwenezi District, south east Zimbabwe.
“Through conservation farming we have managed to harvest more than a tonne. Some we have sold, some we have stored for my family consumption “ Joyce
Family members of Aaron Runesu (54), a lead farmer on the Christian Care conservation farming program helping carry banana grass cuttings used for mulching and feeding livestock in Mapume Cluster in Chiredzi District, Zimbabwe.
This year the region is experiencing a prolonged drought making conditions hard for the farmers.
Aaron started on the farming program in 2009 and is one of the original farmers. His main crop is maize and some groundnuts.
“I’ve learnt not to plant anything without mulch.” Aaron
Marion Makusha (33) preparing breakfast for family members after a mornings work in their fields in Mapume Cluster in Chiredzi District, Zimbabwe.
A view from a hill overlooking Jessina’s home with her house on the near left and the family fields on the right.
Christopher (11) and Stanley (6) herd goats near to their home.
Jessina cooking a meal for her family at her home in Zaka district, Zimbabwe.
Nyemba Beauty and her family are just about to start on the Conservation Farming program. Currently their fields do not produce enough maize.
Jessina planting maize seeds in her fields.
Apolonia (14) collecting water from a communal bore hole 2km from her home. The water is for drinking and household use and it also provides moisture to the newly planted maize crops.
Jessina adding water to her newly planted maize crop.
Desmond Makuni, from Christian Care demonstrating how important mulching is to stop rain run off to new farmers.
Jessina is shown mulching techniques by Newton, a Project Assistant with Christian Care who has been her mentor for four years.
Jessina proudly showing one of her turkeys. She was able to buy the turkeys for breeding after using conservation farming techniques which produced enough maize to feed the family and left enough to sell.
I’m catching up on some assignments I’ve completed over the past year, starting with a trip to Cambodia and Laos with Plan International Australia, so below are a selection of images highlighting the programs we visited.
In Cambodia we were looking at the challengers children face with nutrition and accessing education. Whilst the country is rapidly developing, most visibly in the cities such as Phnom Penh, you don’t have to go far from the main roads to see how poverty and lack of employment opportunities are affecting the younger generation.
One girl we met was 13 year old Sokhat who lives in a small village in Siem Reap. Despite living close to Angkor Wat, now one of the worlds most popular tourist destinations, Siem Reap remains one of the poorest provinces in Cambodia. Malnutrition continues to be a major problem with most children showing signs of malnourishment and 45% have experienced stunted growth.
Sokhat (13) pictured outside her home in a village on the outskirts of Siem Reap province, Cambodia.
Sokhat lives with her mum, Mean Khon, (52) in a small hut without power or water. They try to survive on a limited income Khon earns after her husband died of complications from a wound he received during the war. Khon herself is a survivor of that dark period, showing us scars from a gunshot wound to her leg received during an attack on her village.
(L) Sokhat (13) is pictured with her mother Mean Khon, (52) sitting outside their home in a village on the outskirts of Siem Reap province, Cambodia.
Sokhat walks to school every day and along with her classmates, she receives a breakfast of fish, rice and beans as part of the Plan Australia supported school feeding program. It’s easy to understand how having a healthy, nutritious breakfast sets children up for the day with enough energy to learn and play.
(C) Sokhat (13) waiting to be served a breakfast of rice and greens as part of the Plan Australia supported school feeding program at her primary school.
(C) Sokhat enjoying a breakfast of rice and greens with classmates.
Students during the first lesson of the day after eating their daily breakfast.
(Front) Sokhat and friends skipping during their first break time of the day.
Sokhat during an outdoor maths lesson.
The family also receives a bag of rice and a tin of oil to take home. Without this program Sokhat wouldn’t be able to attend school and would have to work to help support herself and her mother.
Her mother Khon said, “I want Sokhat to attend class and not be like me, who can’t read or write anything. This program has changed my life and it helps my daughter go to school.”
(L) Sokhat (13) and her friend Sreypin (11) play outside their home.
In Laos, early years education and hygiene were the focus of the programs. In the remote mountain district of Pha Oudom, many of the villagers are too small to run pre school classes which are considered essential for a child’s development.
Children play volleyball with a makeshift ball in a remote mountainous, village in the Pha Oudom district of Laos.
Plan Australia helped parents set up playgroups for three to four year olds as well as a summer school for older students where they play and learn together in a safe environment.
Children participating in Plan’s summer school for children aged five and six.
Children participating in Plan’s summer school.
Thun (5) is participating in Plan’s summer school “My favourite thing to do at school is drawing. I like drawing people. I have friends at school and we like to play jumping games.”
One of the important parts of their early education is learning essential hygiene practices like how to wash their hands and brush their teeth.
At school, they learn essential hygiene practices like how to wash their hands and brush their teeth.
Children using bamboo taps to wash their hands.
A young boy washes his hands using a bamboo tap.
Children participating in Plan’s summer school for children aged five and six in a mountainous, remote village in the Pha Oudom district in Laos.
Hygiene education lessons continue as the children get older. Vai (12), is a passionate supporter of hygiene education and even has the lyrics to a hygiene song she learnt at school hanging above her bed.
Vai (12 ) washing her face at a water pump close to her home at sunrise.
Vai (12) sitting on her bed in her small bamboo house .She is passionate about hygiene and has the lyrics of a hygiene song that she learnt at a Plan-supported school hanging above her bed.
(R) Vai (12) outside her house with her mother Kow (37), father Juan (35) who are both rice farmers and her sisters.
(L) Vai (12) walks to school with her best friend Mukatun (12) each with their Plan school bags.
Vai says: “I always visit the toilet, wash my hands with soap, wash my clothes, take a bath, brush my teeth, wash my hair, clean my house, and wash dishes and keep my environment clean.”
Below is a short promotional video made mostly during the trip to Cambodia and Laos.
A page layout from another village in Laos in Global Child magazine.
Ethiopia is now hosting more refugees than any other African country. Many of those refugees, over 285,000 at present, have fled the civil war in South Sudan, which broke out in 2013.
Most find shelter in the main camps run by UNHCR but a number of refugees from the less dominant tribes end up settling in Ethiopian host communities. Whilst they benefit from having shared tribal connections and the same language, these communities often lack the resources and infrastructure available in the main camps and conditions can be extremely harsh.
One such community we visited with Act for Peace was in Akula, now hosting over 1,600 people in the hot, dusty Gambella region of Western Ethiopia. The farming community had fled to Ethiopia when rebels attacked their village in South Sudan. Everything was destroyed, all the houses were burnt down and there was no food left to eat. After a long trek they arrived in Ethiopia with nothing.
Akula community in Gambella that is hosting over 1,600 refugees from South Sudan. They have lived in these conditions for over a year.
One year on and the greatest challengers they continue to face is access to water, sanitation and hygiene, which has had tragic consequences. When we visited, the community was in the middle of a Hepatitis E outbreak and five people had already died. With just one working water point available, there wasn’t enough water for people to wash their hands and the two latrines built when they first arrived had already become unusable, so it was easy for the disease to take hold.
One young boy called John (8) was just starting to recover from what the community were calling “Yellow eyes disease’, named after the distinctive yellow eyes people get when infected. John looked exhausted and had just recently started leaving his bed. His anxious mother, Tuskur who had seen others die from the disease said she could only watch helplessly as he had grown weaker and weaker.
John (8) with distinctive yellow eyes, a symptom of contracting Hepatitis E. John had seen a doctor but there was no medicine available to treat the disease. He has been ill for over a week but he is slowly improving.
John (8) (centre) who is recovering from Hepatitis E stands listlessly whilst his mother Tuskur talks with Chuol about hygiene and sanitation. Choul, himself a refugee from the same community used to work in WASH programs in south Sudan and now helps train his own community in Akula camp.
After consultation with the refugees, Act for Peace and their local partner DICAC constructed the much needed latrines and fixed another water point. They also began distributing soap and trained people from their own community to teach families about hygiene and health.
“Our top priority is latrines because as long as you’re in good health you can do things and change your life.” – Jock, Community Chief
Kama (18) and her daughter Nyadak (1), refugees from South Sudan collect water from a water point in Akula community in Gambella. She now collects water 3 times a day for her family.
Whilst there we also met Kama and her daughter Nyadak (1). An amazingly resilient young mother, Kama had to hide in bushes when soldiers attacked her home then flee across the border with her daughter. When she arrived she had nothing at all and ended up living in a makeshift shelter. She didn’t even have a bucket to collect water so had to borrow one from her neighbour.
Kama was one of the first to receive a jerry can and soap during a distribution and is now able to care for her daughter.
Kama (18) and her daughter Nyadak (1) collecting water from a water point in Akula.
Kama (18) walking through Akula community after collecting water from a nearby water point. Kama arrived from South Sudan with nothing so had to borrow a jerrycan to collect water before the DICAC distribution.
Kama outside in Akula community in Gambella that is hosting over 1,600 refugees from South Sudan. EOC DICAC have improved the hygiene and sanitation conditions by installing latrines and provided training and regular non food items such as soap and jerrycans.
A recent follow up assessment reported back that since the introduction of the new latrines and water access, no one had fallen ill let alone died from Hepatitis E. Whilst the community undoubtedly still face many challengers and hope to return to south Sudan, the solution to giving people like Kama and John a safer, more dignified life in the camp was as simple as access to clean water, soap and toilets.
Akula camp and Kama became the main focus of the Act for Peace Christmas Bowl 2015 appeal. Below are some more images taken in Akula and other camps that Act for Peace and their partners work in.
Front page appeal on the Act for Peace website featuring Kama.
An elderly lady sits outside her makeshift home in the Akula community in Gambella.
Children walk back from a water point in Akula. Children are particularly at risk from diseases.
A view over part of Tierkidi refugee camp, hosting almost 50,000 south Sudanese refugees, mostly from the Nuer ethnic group in the Gambella region of western Ethiopia.
Act for Peace partners EOC DICAC are working in response to the south Sudanese refugee crisis by assisting refugees in the areas of education, non food items, vocational training, household latrines and youth programs. They work in many of the main camps as well as some host communities.
Noyakume (18), who arrived from South Sudan in April 2014 sits outside her home in Tierkidi refugee camp. With no secondary school in the camp her education is at risk. Noyakume, who wants to be a teacher and likes English said, ‘You need education to be able to do something in your life.” Act for Peace partners EOC DICAC are building a secondary school in the camp.
Ethiopia teacher Ashebir Tamiru (29) teaching physics at the DICAC run secondary school in Pugndo camp to newly arrived south Sudanese refugees. Pugndo camp is hosting over 55,000 refugees, mostly from the Nuer ethnic group in the Gambella region of western Ethiopia.
Girls playing basketball in Kule refugee camp as part of the DICAC run Youth Program. Act for Peace partners EOC DICAC run the youth program in Kule along with community based psychosocial support.
South sudanese refugees play basketball in Kule camp as part of the DICAC run Youth Program. Kule refugee camp is hosting over 45,000 refugees from south Sudan.
Children in Tierkidi camp that is hosting almost 50,000 south Sudanese refugees, mostly from the Nuer ethnic group. At the moment there are no educational opportunities for refugees from Grade 9 onwards so Act for Peace partners DICAC are building a secondary school in the camp.
Last year I made my first visit to PNG, a country that has always been on my must go to list. A quick night stop in Port Moresby, an internal flight to Mt Hagen then a two hour drive up into the hills saw me arrive in the community of Grisa, located in the Banz area of Jiwarka province.
I was there to meet Dominic, a community member from Grisa and Sister Regina, who have been running a project called Community Conversations since 2007. The aim of the program is to help create safe spaces, facilitated by trained community members, so everyone in the community can discuss the key issues they face, such as violence, HIV or other issues they have identified.
Dominic was one of the first volunteers on the program. Through the training, he learnt communication and problem-solving skills that helped him lead open, respectful community discussions in his village.
A lady laughing during a role play put on by Dominic and other facilitators during a Community Conversations session in the village of Grisa.
Dominic with students and facilitators wade across the Mobal river which separates his home village of Grisa and the Sisters of Notre Dame where the Community Conversations workshops are held.
Grisa was the first village to participate in the Community Conversations program and since starting they have seen many positive changes such as reduction in domestic violence and better gender equality.
“Now everyone, women and young people, have a voice and peace is maintained that way.” – Dominic.
John Kaa a community member of Grisa village making comments about the role play he had just watched about gender inequality during a community conversations session.
Children play on a road the community hand built to connect their village of Grisa to the main highway. The project to build the road started after a Community Conversations session identified self reliance and connectivity as key ways of improving life in their village.
Dominic listening to community members in their home village of Grisa in Banz area of Jiwarka Province, Papua New Guinea.
Dominic described how his community has changed. He said, “Before the community conversation, we were just like any other community. We had no respect, adulteries, divorces and inequality in gender. A lot of people drink in our community and go partying in night dances. This has declined to the point where no one is doing it anymore.”
“They are now using money wisely, purchasing clothes for the children, paying school project fees, and basic necessities as salt and cooking oil.” – Dominic.
Dominic facilitating a Community Conversation session in his home village of Grisa. This session helped demonstrate to students who were on a week long Community Conversations workshop how the sessions are run.
Children play whilst community members gather for a meeting in their home village of Grisa.
Whilst I was there, Dominic was helping teach on a week long workshop for community volunteers who wanted to hold Community Conversation sessions in their own villagers. Ranging from teenagers to adults, most of the volunteers had either experienced or had been involved in many of the issues that beset these remote communities.
“I have seen changes in people’s lives and feel very proud. As a facilitator of Community Conversations I feel proud that I can contribute something to the community meaningfully.” – Dominic.
Dominic conducting a training session with other facilitators and students during a week long Community Conversations workshop held at The Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre at the Sisters of Notre Dame in the Banz area of Jiwarka province, PNG highlands.
Dominic with Sister Regina Marie Wamp, the Community Conversations Coordinator discussing the days program during a week long Community Conversations workshop.
Dominic conducting a Power Step training session with other facilitators and students during a week long Community Conversations workshop.
Dominic has seen changes in himself as well as his community. He said, “In the past, I am the one that make the decision. I am the boss of the house. After getting schooled in CC, I let my wife and children partake in the decisions affecting our family. I have quit on alcohol. In the past, I don’t work in the gardens. I laze around and let my wife work for the family most times. I have changed this attitude and helped a lot in farming my land to support my wife.”
Having felt the impact the program has had on his home village, Dominic is confident that Community Conversations can make a difference to other communities.
“Firstly, attitude must change and people should realise their potential and power they have within to develop their province and country as a whole. I am not a leader or politician but I believe this can be achievable.” – Dominic.
Dominic talks with students Ethally (22) and John (20) during a week long Community Conversations workshop. They volunteered to be part of the program and will return to run sessions to help identify and overcome their own communities issues.
“I find much happiness when I see my community in peace, and my children safe.”- Dominic.
Dominic surrounded by community members in their home village of Grisa in Banz area of Jiwarka Province, Papua New Guinea.
It’s been a very busy 6 months of travelling so I’m looking forward to sharing those stories with you soon.
One of those assignments was to Gaza. I’d been to Gaza a few times over the years but was shocked and appalled by the level of destruction following the 2014 war. Whole suburbs of densely populated districts had been levelled, often with great loss of life.
Wherever you went there were signs of the conflict. There were individual buildings demolished in streets in a seemingly arbitrary way. I met medical staff and their families whose houses had been destroyed and they had no idea why. It is hard to imagine what it must have been like to be there during those 51 days of violence. The complete random nature of the bombing must have been terrifying.
One of the consequences of this and the reason for my visit was to report on the effect this has had on children. One year after the war, UNICEF states that over 300,000 children need psychosocial counselling to overcome their trauma. The scale of the problem and the long term consequences if nothing is done seems immense. The following story introduces some of those affected by the war and the efforts of a dedicated group of counsellors helping heal them.
Many thanks to Act for Peace for the assignment, Ebaa, an amazing and patient translator, all the staff at the NECC clinic and the people of Gaza who showed nothing but the warmest hospitality and resilience in the most difficult of situations.
The story is best viewed on a larger screen as many of the images are full frame and wait for the video clips to load…thanks…
Now home to over 630,000 refugees, Ethiopia has become the largest refugee hosting country in Africa after Kenya. The ongoing conflict in South Sudan has recently driven thousands of people across the border, joining hundreds of thousands of Somali and Eritrean refugees already sheltering there.
Whilst the recent relatively calm situation in Somalia has stabilised arrivals, the number of people seeking shelter from the oppressive regime in Eritrea has increased with up to 2,000 people a month fleeing into Ethiopia, many because of the open ended forced military conscription and accusations of gross human rights violations.
This is putting a huge strain on the already delicate health care system in Ethiopia which only has one major public hospital capable of treating complex medical procedures. In February this year I visited Act for Peace partners to see how they are assisting refugees access health care in the capital Addis Ababa and the situation in Somali refugee camps along the border. Whilst each refugee camp has a clinic, there is generally only one doctor for the whole camp, usually housing over 10,000 people, so they can only provide the most basic primary health care, the more complex situations need to be referred to Addis.
The Urban Refugee Program works with the government to help care for refugees and their families to survive in Addis whilst they access treatment by helping with medical expenses, emergency transport, supplementary dietary requirements and housing. Medical conditions range from conflict trauma to cancer and the need for kidney dialysis.
On each assignment you always meet people who have an impact on you. Two such people here were Fred the ambulance driver and Tekeste whose energy and positivity is the reason why this assistance is so essential.
A good driver can make or break your story and I was lucky enough to be teamed up with Fred, a generous, calm and highly motivated Addis born ambulance driver who always went beyond what was expected of him. It was obvious he made strong bonds with the refugees who rely on him to transport them to their hospital appointments. He becomes like family to them and is quite often the only friend they have in the city. Spending hours driving along the choked roads of Addis, picking up refugees from the cheaper outlying suburbs, Fred would tell me stories of him helping refugees give birth in the back of his vehicle and how he would spend all night looking for a chemist that stocked the correct medication for one of his patients.
It was Fred who introduced me to Tekeste, the 10 year old Eritrean boy who without the intervention of the partner agency would have died from a tumour behind his eye. Despite showing obvious signs of major surgery, he had an infectious smile and energy about him that was inspiring. His story, as with all refugees, was troubling. The family had fled Eritrea five years ago and had been living in a camp in the north of Ethiopia. Tekeste’s condition deteriorated and he was unable to see or walk around by himself. After the partners managed to get him a referral to Addis and surviving major surgery he is now back at school and playing with friends again. Doctors say his outlook is positive and he hopes to become a teacher one day.
You can see and hear from both Fred and Tekeste in the video and stills below. If you’d like to contribute please click on the link here…..
A young Somali refugee suffering from malnutrition in the Sheder refugee camp health centre in eastern Ethiopia on the border of Somalia.
Sheder refugee camp is home to over 10,700 refugees and opened in 2008 following fighting in Somalia with Al-Shabab. More than 60% of the refugees are under 16 years old.
Senior Nurse Abdul Karim (35) looking after Somali refugee patients in the Sheder refugee camp health centre. There is only one doctor and a few nurses for all the refugees in the camp who often have complex medical issues from trauma wounds to physiological conditions.
Ebode has 8 children and fled Mogadishu after fighting began 5 years ago. Her husband died in the fighting. She suffers from asthma, hypertension and has a cardiac condition. Medical staff at the Sheder refugee camp clinic say she is in need of permanent Urban Refugee Status so she can receive treatment at the Black Lion hospital which is the only public cardiac hospital in the country.
A street scene in Sheder refugee camp in eastern Ethiopia on the border of Somalia. There are over 250,000 refugees from Somalia seeking shelter in Ethiopia.
Zahra (47) with her son Hussein (11) outside their shelter in Sheder refugee camp. Zahra fled Mogadishu in March 2008 when fighting erupted between Al-Shabab and government forces. Her husband was killed and she lost track of her two other children at night during the chaos and has been unable to find them since. She was also injured and lost sight in one eye. She now tries to care for Hussein who has severe disabilities by herself and needs to be referred to the Urban Refugee program so they can receive the assistance and support that is needed.
Somali refugees walk past shelters in Ar-barre refugee camp in eastern Ethiopia on the border of Somalia. The camp is home to over 12,300 refugees and opened in 2007 following fighting in Somalia with Al-Shabab.
Ebado (60) with her daughter Halimo (20) in their shelter which has been home for the past 24 years in Kebribeyah refugee camp in eastern Ethiopia. The camp opened in 1991 following the breakdown of the government in Somalia which led to intense fighting.
Children in Kebribeyah refugee camp in eastern Ethiopia, home to over 15,700 refugees from Somalia. Many children were born in the camp.
Fred has been an ambulance driver with Act for Peace partner DICAC for over 5 years. For many refugees, DICAC and staff like Fred are their only contact and support in Ethiopia. The long term patients build up strong bonds with the drivers and social workers.
Fred helps Jamilah, an elderly Somali lady from her home in Addis into his ambulance to transport her to hospital for treatment with the help of her daughter. They spent 6 months in Aw Barre refugee camp before being medically referred to Addis for treatment.
Social worker Abebech (37) discusses what further assistance is required for Khalif at his home in Addis. Khalif is a Somali refugee whose legs were paralysed after being shot in the back in Mogadishu. On the bed is Khalif's father demonstrating how his son gets out of bed.
Sitting outside his home in Addis Ababa, Abdullahi (21) from Somalia has a degenerative nerve disorder and is now in a wheelchair and totally reliant on his sister (right) Medina (18) who is his primary caregiver and younger sister (left) Hamda (15). His younger brother Ahmed (19) has the same illness as did his sister who recently died. Medina missed out on school as one of the care givers but hopes to attend school one day. DICAC transports the brothers to hospital and pays for medication as well as rent/daily living allowances.
Biniam from Asmara in Eritrea was badly beaten up and tortured whilst conscripted into the Eritrean Army for not following orders to kill prisoners. He managed to escape whilst in hospital through a smuggling network into Ethiopia where he spent 1.5 years in a refugee camp confined to a wheelchair. He was them medically referred to Addis through DICAC where he has received surgery on his badly broken legs and hips and with physiotherapy is now able to walk with crutches. He said, ' I just want to be in a safe place, that I can work and receive treatment. I don't want to be involved with any politics, I just want to be safe.'
Tekeste (10) a refugee and DICAC medical referral patient from Eritrea with his father outside the main DICAC office in Addis Ababa. Tekeste had a tumor in his left eye which left untreated would have killed him. After fleeing Eritrea with his family, he spent 2 years in a refugee camp on the border of Eritrea. He has been in Addis on a medical referral for 5 years where he lives with his father. His mother is still in the camp looking after their 3 daughters. He occasionally gets to see her.
Tekeste had a successful operation to remove the tumor in Black Lion Hospital and is still receiving rehabilitative treatment. He has lost the sight in his left eye but his right eye has regained full use. Before the operation, the tumor used to badly affect vision in both eyes. He is now able to go to school.
Tekeste playing with his Eritrean refugee friends outside their home in Addis Ababa where they live together. He said, 'Before the operation it was difficult to play because I couldn't see. Now my eye is better and I feel much better.'