International Medical Corps

International Medical Corps is a global humanitarian nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through healthcare training, disaster relief, and long-term development programs.
Sep 15, 2016

Bekelech's Story: Supporting Resilient Families in Drought-Affected Ethiopia

Bekelech with some of her new livestock
Bekelech with some of her new livestock

When Bekelech’s husband died two years ago, she was left with a small garden in southwestern Ethiopia, two cows, and five children to raise alone. Because of chronic food insecurity and deep poverty, Bekelech was forced to sell both of her cows so that her children could eat. She could no longer afford to send her children to school or buy seeds for her garden. “We were all hungry. I would collect fire wood and sell charcoal with an empty stomach,” Bekelech recalled, referring to her only source of income. “When things were very difficult, my children would forage for wild cabbage.”

Each year, Ethiopia suffers from a cyclical pattern of floods and droughts. This year, El Niño, the global weather phenomenon, exacerbated the cycle of food insecurity. Excessive rainfall during the wet season led to flooding, widespread crop destruction, and a rise in the spread of water-borne diseases, such as Acute Watery Diarrhea. This was followed by several months of little to no rain, which grew into the worst drought Ethiopia has experienced in 50 years. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the extreme flooding and drought continues to negatively impact the lives and livelihoods of 9.7 million Ethiopians.

In response to the drought in Ethiopia, International Medical Corps is providing nutritional support and sustainable solutions to address those suffering from malnutrition in Ethiopia. We work with mothers and caregivers to teach positive, health-seeking feeding practices that rely on locally available food as well as provide nutrition services for children under five years of age. Our teams operate health and nutrition programs for mothers and their children, integrating hygiene and sanitation support. We also operate a resiliency program to provide more than 700 landowners like Bekelech with livestock and seeds to grow locally-sustainable, vitamin-rich foods.

Bekelech was introduced to International Medical Corps’ livelihoods and resiliency program. First, she attended a two-day training on integrated crop production and efficient farming practices. Soon afterwards, our resiliency program gave her three sheep and 200 kilograms of Irish potato seeds. Bekelech said, “We did not have proper food until I became an International Medical Corps Resilience Building Project beneficiary.” The program also connected her with the Rural Savings and Credit Cooperative, a UN-funded initiative that helps farmers get small, low-interest loans to improve agricultural production. Within months, Bekelech’s potato crops were so successful that she was able to feed her family, sell most of her produce at the market, pay back the loan, and invest in her children’s education.

We thank you and the GlobalGiving community for your support as we help drought-affected families like Bekelech's become resilient.

Bekelech and her older children with their animals
Bekelech and her older children with their animals
Sep 6, 2016

Rebuilding Lives through Psychological Support for Refugees

A woman stands outside her shelter in a camp
A woman stands outside her shelter in a camp

The children panic every time they hear an airplane or thunderclap. “They think they are going to be bombed,” their mother, Hana, explained. “Two bombs fell over our house. My small daughter was hurt by shrapnel.” Like nearly five million others, Hana and her family lost everything when they fled Syria’s brutal civil war. They crossed the Aegean Sea in a dinghy in the middle of the night, hoping to be reunited with Hana’s husband, who is receiving medical treatment in Germany. When the borders closed in March, Hana and her young children were stuck in Greece, without options and with little information or hope. Today, they live in an abandoned tobacco factory along with some 160 other people, mostly Syrian, their shelters divided by grey wool blankets strung up by a rope.

In some of the camps, families are allotted small tents, in others, row after row of ventilated container units line a barren gravel lot. While the structures vary from camp to camp, the people stranded in these camps have a few things in common, including a shared history of trauma. According to the UN Refugee Agency, there are some 59,000 refugees and migrants currently living in Greece, mostly in camps like Hana’s. Women and children make up around 59% of those living in limbo.

Dina Prior, International Medical Corps’ Country Director in Greece notes, “It’s critical that we care for their emotional and psychological needs, in addition to basic services, like clean water.” Psychosocial support is one of the key components of our response. Our teams are working to build the capacity of local psychosocial support staff, providing psychological first aid training. This training equips first responders to interact with the men, women, and children who have experienced stressful events. To support children’s mental health and well-being, we host programs that teach children valuable skills, including coping mechanisms and safe hygiene practices that empower children to play influential roles in their communities.

We are just getting started, and stories like Hana’s remind us how critical the need for psychological support is. Hasan, a refugee from Aleppo, Syria, described what he and so many refugees are experiencing: “I just want to sleep, but my mind won’t let me.” He added, “I am tired psychologically now. Every day there is a problem here. And then I remember Syria—and I am haunted by the ghosts.”

We want to thank the GlobalGiving community and other donors for supporting our work and helping refugees and migrants in Greece rebuild their lives.

Children wear shirts that teach them hygiene tips
Children wear shirts that teach them hygiene tips
Teaching life-skills to boys and girls in the camp
Teaching life-skills to boys and girls in the camp
Sep 2, 2016

A Hope for the Future in the Middle of Chaos: The Story of Amelia and Mujwock

Amelia and Mujwock after a healthy check-up
Amelia and Mujwock after a healthy check-up

It was an early February morning when Amelia started to feel labor pains. “I just kept thinking about having a normal delivery,” she said later. “My real worry was that people would continue fighting.” The night before, violence had broken out at the UN refugee camp in Malakal, South Sudan where Amelia and her family have lived for two and a half years. Amelia, along with her husband and children, rushed out of the camp, spending the night outside as gunfire crackled nearby. A few days before, Amelia would have delivered her baby in International Medical Corps’ clinic, but now, even the doctors that worked there couldn’t access the clinic. Dr. Jean Paul Umuringi, our Medical Coordinator in Malakal, explained, “We had to relocate to a safer place, but when we found one, all that was there was a container. We did the only thing we could do: we improvised and put a delivery bed in the container.”

During the two days of extreme violence, Dr. Umuringi and his colleague, Dr. Tekeselassie Gebreyohanne, safely delivered four babies in the container outside of the Malakal Camp. Dr. Gebreyohanne recalled, “It’s difficult…very hard to take in that people outside were dying and inside we were helping people give birth.” After the violence subsided and our team returned to the camp, they found the clinic had been demolished in the violence. But they already knew that life goes on, even in the midst of destruction, and we set to work rebuilding and restocking the clinic. Today, the facility offers a variety of health services to the 33,000 people still living in the Malakal camp, including maternal and child care, primary health care, mental health support, and surgical procedures.

In the face of fear and uncertainty, all mothers hope for the best for their babies. Amelia delivered a healthy baby girl and name her Mujwock, which means “Gift from God” in their local Shilluk language, a nod to the miracle of her birth in the midst of violence. Mujwock is now a six month-old baby with bright, round eyes and chubby cheeks. Amelia brings her to our clinic in Malakal regularly for immunizations and check-ups to make sure she gets a healthy start to life. When asked what she wants for her children’s loves, she replies: “I want them to grown in peace.”

We want to thank the GlobalGiving community and other donors for supporting our work and making a difference in the lives of South Sudan’s mothers, children, and their families.

A clinical health worker helps a mother and child
A clinical health worker helps a mother and child
A mother and child visit the clinic in Malakal
A mother and child visit the clinic in Malakal
 
   

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