And a New Year Begins

The new year is a time when people's dreams for change in their lives come to the forefront. And Eritrean refugees are among the first ones to dream of new opportunities—a chance for resettlement, a chance to leave the camp they are in, a chance to build a new life...

Unfortunately, as we all know, not all human beings on our planet have equal opportunities. Chances for resettlement are very slim. In some places, refugees spend the rest of their lives in the camp they live in. Opportunities for change in their lives are very few. They cannot leave the camp without permission. It is not even possible for them to produce food to live off of. 

MSF teams most definitely make a difference, increasing access to necessary medical and mental health care. Through the psychosocial team we are able to provide opportunities for fun and laughter. Kids get to play games and sports. We can bring some hope and change by advocating for those refugees who are the most impaired by a medical or psychiatric condition.

The psychosocial counselors can help refugees address mental health problems, including symptoms such as feelings of hopelessness, sadness, suicidal ideation, flashbacks, nightmares, and many more. Patients can slowly find new motivation, hope, and improvements in their lives. With the psychiatric component, our program can help mothers initially deemed unable to care for their child become fully responsible parents, men who were unable to function get back to daily responsibilities, individuals with schizophrenia reintegrate into society. And the lives of many refugees then improve.

Some days it feels like a bandage on a gaping wound. Other days the smiles and laughter fill my heart with joy and I lose any doubt that the work I am doing is worthwhile.

More needs to be done. But I am doing my share. And I feel blessed I can enjoy New Year's champagne on our Ethiopian roof!