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World Refugee Day: Addressing Health, Education, and Displacement

Today, June 20th, we observe World Refugee Day, a time to recognise both the incredible strength and resilience of displaced individuals worldwide but also the profound challenges these individuals face, especially when it comes to health care.  

According to the UNHCR, approximately 30 million internally displaced people, refugees, and asylum seekers reside in Africa, accounting for nearly one-third of all refugees globally. 

In unstable environments, access to primary healthcare and HIV prevention and treatment becomes a significant challenge. Women and children in particular, suffer severe disruptions to their healthcare, increasing their risk of disease, malnutrition, and violence.  

At mothers2mothers (m2m), we are committed to ensuring the people who need it most, get the care they need from someone they trust – and this includes working with people living in internally displaced persons’ camps in Mozambique and Zambia. 

Supporting adolescent girls and young women in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique 

Cabo Delgado, a province in Northern Mozambique, has experienced armed conflict since 2017 and has seen many hundreds of thousands of people displaced as a result. Women and girls have been particularly affected, and m2m is working to address the health and psychosocial needs of vulnerable adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) living in internally displaced camps in the province through implementing the USAID-funded DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe) programme in the Metuge and Chiure Districts.  

As part of this, m2m trained local women living with HIV as community health workers to provide comprehensive care, including prenatal and postnatal services, HIV prevention, testing, and treatment. These “Mentor Mothers” also educate families about nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, and mental well-being, helping them navigate the complexities of displacement. 

Education and Support Initiatives 

An m2m DREAMS Mentor Mother with four girls she successfully helped reintegrate into school.

As part of our efforts to mobilise and create demand for our services, m2m identified four girls aged 9-14 in the camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) who were not enrolled in school due to financial constraints. We promptly enrolled these girls in our programme, working closely with the local School Board and Education Directorate in Chiure District to secure their admission, despite late registration. m2m provided the necessary educational materials to ensure a smooth transition into the schooling system. However, it soon became apparent that one of the girls, Samia*, was struggling to communicate and integrate into the new school environment. Further investigation revealed that Samia had been a victim of sexual violence in Quissanga a year before fleeing to the IDP centre in Chiure. 

In response, m2m’s District Manager and Mentor Mothers engaged with Samia’s parents to provide psychosocial support, and advocate for her reintegration into school. They emphasised the importance of addressing the special needs of vulnerable children like Samia within the education system. Through their efforts, Samia’s parents were encouraged, and Samia herself expressed a renewed interest in returning to school. 

m2m facilitated a meeting between the school and Samia’s family to ensure her successful reintegration, while also working with teachers to provide the necessary support. Recognising the need for professional intervention, m2m arranged for Samia to receive psychological consultations at the health facility in Chiure. 

Currently, Samia is attending school and participating in counselling sessions with a psychologist. m2m continues to provide ongoing support to ensure her well-being and academic progress. This comprehensive approach underscores m2m’s commitment to addressing the multifaceted needs of vulnerable AGYW living in IDP settings. 

As we reflect on the stories of resilience and hope this World Refugee Day, we are reminded of the critical role healthcare plays in fostering resilience among displaced populations. At m2m, we are dedicated to supporting individuals affected by displacement, ensuring they have access to the healthcare services necessary for a healthier, more stable future, and a place to call home. 

  

Note: Samia is a pseudonym used to protect the identity and confidentiality of the individual client. All identifying details have been altered to safeguard privacy and uphold ethical standards in reporting sensitive cases. 

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