Meet Salamawit in Ethiopia
Conflict erupted in northern Ethiopia in November 2020, and millions of people have been impacted by violence, displacement and hunger. From July to November 2021, nearly 2 million people were forced from their homes in the Amhara and Afar regions alone.
During conflict and crises, community members are often the first responders, and they are critical partners in humanitarian responses. In northern Ethiopia, we are working with incredible volunteers, like Selamawit*, to distribute much-needed food to families fleeing conflict.
Before the crisis, Selamawit was a government employee, but due to the escalation of conflict and destructionof government offices, she had to flee her job and her home. Although she arrived safely at a nearby town, she was unhappy sitting idle, so she decided to volunteer to help other displaced people.
"I don't volunteer to get money ... I just want to help these desperate people. We lived together, and now we are suffering together, but I get satisfaction when I volunteer with the efforts that relief organisations make for these people," she said.
Selamawit and other volunteers are provided with training, equipment and cash to cover their daily expenses. The skills they learn support the humanitarian response, but can also be used to support their community well into the future. During a food distribution facilitated by Oxfam and local partners, Selamawit was an enormous help with registration and communication because she knew the people and the area so well.
"I have no family, the people in the district were my family. I enjoyed living here during the good times. Being here with them during these difficult times is fulfilling to me as a human and as an Ethiopian," Selamawit said.
*Name changed to protect identity.