Tears of sorrow and joy: Abdi’s Story

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Abdi,13, is one among the many children separated from their families during the armed conflict between ethnic Oromo and Somali communities in Dawa zone of the Somali Regional State in Ethiopia. Like so many innocent and helpless children in his village and the surroundings, he was caught in the middle of the cross fire and had no other option but run for his life not knowing where to seek refuge and assistance. One of the nights when his home and the entire Odadima, his village in Mubarak Woreda of Somali’s Dawa zone, was shaking from explosions and gun fires, he ran away from home. When he then made it to Hayguda village, he came to know that his family were nowhere nearby, and he was instead having the company of many people he did not recognize. 

Recounting his dreadful experience,  Abdi said, “I heard people screaming, saw them running in different directions after heavy fighting broke out in our village on the night of a Thursday [December 10,2018]. I don’t remember where I was going and Iwas frightened. After a long walk, I was in the middle of the wild bush but I didn’t know where. The next morning, I met so many people from my village. I was happy and relieved to see them. I asked them whether they saw my mother during their tripand they said they didn’t. They also told me that they were separated from their families.  I started weeping and was confused about when and where I finish my hours of walk. I also felt hungry, thirsty and exhausted.


Abdi with his mother and siblings 

After 5 hours of walk in the wildforest, were ached Hayguda village where I got some food and water from the good people in the village. I kept asking everyone I met if they saw my family, but no one gave me hope. I felt helpless and frightened. I was later taken to the home of my uncle that I didn’t know before. I could not enjoy eating, drinking or playing at all in my new home. I missed my family, and particularly my mother.”

Save the Children staff for our ERM Child Protection project in Hayguda village later identified Abdi where he was living with his uncle who has been his foster parent. Abdi was given psychosocial support by our team and the IDVTR (Identification, Verification,Tracingand Re-unification) process was initiated for him. After a spell of 2 months, the Child Protection team successfully located Abdi’s family and he was successfully reunified. “I was very happy when I was told by Save the Children that they had located my family. I remember my crying with joy and was very excited to join my family once again. I thank Save the Children staff for helping me out.”

The heavily armed conflict between the two ethnic communities has left hundreds of thousands of people displaced and led to the destruction of their properties including rustling of large numbers of livestock.The displacement of humans has greatly had a negative impact on vulnerable members of the communities, particularly children and women.

The local government in collaboration with the Somali Regional State, the Ethiopian Federal Governmentand local/international aid agencies opened up camps for internally displaced persons(IDPs) in Moyale, Mubarak, Hudetand Qadaduma Woredas of Dawa zone.

Save the Children’s Emergency WASH and Protection response for conflict-affected IDP children and their families in Moyale, Hudet and Mubarek Woredas of Dawa Zone, Somali region is funded by the EU humanitarian aid through IRC. The project reached 49,404 beneficiaries through providing water trucking services and WASH kits to 47,303 beneficiaries and protection services through strengthened community-based protection mechanisms and prevention and remedial interventions for 2,101 individuals (children and families). Through our support, IDPs and host communities have been able to use clean and safe water as per the standard during emergencies and they have improved their hygiene and sanitation practices.