Once a School, Now Home to Displaced Families

Once a School, Now Home to Displaced Families

Publication info

Daniel Tesfu & Esete Kebede, CARE International in Ethiopia

Almaz, 27, is one of more than 820,000 displaced people in Gedeo zone in Southern Ethiopia. Almaz has taken shelter in a school in Gedeb. Her baby was crying while she was telling her story. Each classroom has 40 to 50 people sleeping on the bare ground. They have no mattresses, no blankets or extra clothes to lie on. Sitting on a school chair, trying to calm down her baby while breast feeding, she cries nonstop. There is not much milk coming out for the baby. Almaz shared her story. 

 “I have six children. I gave birth to my youngest child here, in this shelter. I came here because of the ongoing conflict in my home village. I lived in a woreda* in west Guji zone. I came here with my husband and children after our house was burnt down. My husband has returned back to our village because a relative has died back home and wanted to help the family out.”

“In our village we had a farm and coffee plantation. Our children used to go to school. Now there is no school for them to go to. We fled here to Gedeb after our house and belongings were looted and burnt down. It is not the first time that we had to flee. There was a similar conflict in the past. We have fled to this area before, which is why we directly came back to Gedeb.’’

“We are 44 people living in this small class room. We sleep here every night. In our home town my husband and I produced our own food which was enough to feed our families but now we might not even able to eat once a day. I am breastfeeding, but I don’t get any special food for my baby. All we get is corn and wheat from government and aid agencies, nothing else. The most difficult thing for me is that we don’t have any food or clothes. We don’t have anything to sleep on; we all sleep on the cold floor. We don’t have cooking materials. It’s very difficult to cook proper food. I just hope for one day to return to our homes and start living as before.” 

*Woreda: local term for “district.”

Almaz Getachew (center) with her infant baby born in the camp for internally displaced families in Gebeb, Ethiopia. Photo: Daniel Test/CARE Ethiopia