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Eldana's journey and dream to treat needy people in a conflict-prone area

May 25th, 2023

Eldana sustained serious injuries after she was shot in the head when war broke out in their village in Ethiopia. Neighbours and relatives raised money for her treatment, but her father fled with all the money collected, leaving them helpless. Luckily, the humanitarian response project team identified and provided her with individual protection assistance and psychosocial counselling. Now, her mental well-being is restored, she is back in school and is living a normal life.


Eldana's early life

Eldana, 9 years old, lives with her mother and 2 younger sisters in a one-room rental house in Ataye Town, Northern Shewa Zone, and Amhara Region of Ethiopia. Before the conflict, Eldana lived a joyful life with her parents and two sisters. She was active, sociable and dedicated to her academics and was an exemplary student in her class too. Her communication and interaction with the people around her was an integral part of her life that made her more adorable. She was an active student who also participated in different extra-curricular activities at school. Her mother was always committed to supporting her family. She worked on daily casual labour jobs and sometimes sought support from relatives and neighbours in order to provide for her family. Other than that, the family barely had any permanent source of income to fulfil all their basic needs.

Traumatic experience

One traumatic experience completely changed the life of Eldana and her family. During the invasion of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPFL) in April 2021, Eldana and her family were running away from the conflict area for safety. Sadly, Eldana was caught in the crossfire, and was in desperate need of immediate medical treatment. She could not get access to any medical attention in time and ended up losing one of her eyes as a result, causing her severe pain and anguish.

After the war progressed to the northern area, Eldana's family was able to return home, only to find all their property stolen and healthcare centres looted and destroyed. At a young age, Eldana was forced to drop out of school and stay at home. "Eldana could not rejoin school because of her untreated injury which greatly affected her physical and mental state, fearing she will be out of school for life," her mother explained. 

In order to sustain her family in the conflict-prone area and treat her daughter, Eldana's mother sought support from relatives and neighbours, and managed to collect some money. However, her father took all the money raised and disappeared without a trace, leaving them vulnerable, hopeless and depressed.

Support and restoration

In March 2022, Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ case workers conducted an identification and registration exercise for children at risk in Ataye, where they met Eldana and her family. She received Individual Protection Assistance (IPA), an amount of 148 Euros which she used to get medical treatment. After receiving IPA, regular home-based psychosocial support activities were undertaken to improve the families’ psychosocial support and increase her resilience.  Eldana started to regain her confidence to attend school and slowly developed a positive mindset, learning to live with her existing situation.

Following identification and selection by the Kebele Beneficiary Selection committee and assistance by TdH-NL, Eldana's family was supported through the provision of multipurpose cash support services for conflict-affected vulnerable children and their families. In October 2022 they were supported with 133 Euros which helped them cover transport and medical treatment expenses, and purchase scholastic materials for her. Eldana received eyeglasses and an artificial eye to replace the injured one, helping her regain her eyesight. "Because of the support of TdH-NL, my daughter has recovered from her physical and psychological injuries and is now able to attend her formal education with children of her age," said Eldana's joyful mother.

Forging ahead

Eldana is now back in school in the third grade after nine months of school absence. She has developed a positive mentality and is empowered to be more resilient. She loves bonding with her peers, playing with her siblings and studying. She did not let her injury define her. She slowly adapted to her new environment and became the fifth rank in her academic performance. 

The case workers and volunteers conduct frequent visits to assess her progress. She has made good progress and is very committed to continuing her studies. As a casualty of war, she explained, "Children like me become helpless and are left injured and pass away due to lack of proper medical attention."  

Eldana is determined to finish school and equip herself in the healthcare profession field to support others who are on the verge of losing their lives as a result of a lack of proper medical care. Speaking about her future, Eldana says, “My dream is to become a medical doctor and help disadvantaged and needy people."

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