Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Kefyalech, a 30-year-old mother who lives in Ethiopia, stays home to care for her six children while her husband, Derara, seeks work. But Derara often comes home without having found a job, because the coffee crop is suffering just like all the others in the two-year rainfall shortage that has gripped Ethiopia for months now, so the family remains hungry.

Three years ago, Kefyalech worked as a daily labourer and earned 10 birr (around 70 cents) a day, which covered some of the family’s expenses. But these days, Kefyalech and her children wait each night to see if Derara has earned enough money to buy maize flour, the only food they can afford.

Kefyalech’s family is not alone. Poor rainfall over two growing seasons has limited the amount farmers can harvest, and El Nino is delaying the rainfall now. The drought is challenging Ethiopia’s agriculture-based economy and has reduced its food supply.

The Ethiopian government estimates more than 10 million people will need food assistance in 2016, more than half of whom are children.

Working with the Ethiopian government, ChildFund Ethiopia and its local partner organisations in seven districts have been providing supplementary food and edible oil for 74,000 most vulnerable children and family members over the past three months. ChildFund’s local partners are also supporting the government to provide blankets, sheets and mattresses to help health centres handle the growing demand as more and more children need treatment.

Until 2012, there was only one hospital in the Nonghet District of Laos. While it was easily accessible for most community members, it lacked adequate medical equipment and was poorly staffed. Many expectant mothers, like Lor (pictured above), did not trust the hospital`s services and preferred to give birth at home.

This all changed when ChildFund Laos started working in Nonghet four years ago. ChildFund undertook extensive renovations of the local hospital buildings and also provided essential medical equipment, including a new steriliser and an incubator.

With funding support from the Australian Government and the Give A Little Love Foundation, ChildFund also constructed a new Mother and Child Hospital in Nonghet, which opened in July 2014. The hospital is equipped with four doctors and five female nurses, who provide prenatal and antenatal services. Lor was one of the first mothers to give birth at the newly built hospital.

“I had my first four children at home, with my mother-in-law and older women from the village assisting. During my home births, I sat on a wooden chair or a bed and after the delivery I would have a strong backache. At home, there is no specific equipment for delivery,” Lor explains.

“When I had my fifth child I wasn’t afraid, but since it was eight years since the last one, I decided to have antenatal care at the district hospital,” she says.