What should the baby be named? Danish? DRC?

09.11.12

From Ethiopia

In Gambella in western Ethiopia, five children born unexpectedly by South Sudanese refugee women waiting in line at an aid distribution site have been given unusual names. In gratitude for the assistance the mothers were receiving, they chose to name their children after Danish Refugee Council.

The baby girl and four boys were all born within one week in October 2012 in a village in Gambella. There, Danish Refugee Council is distributing relief aid in support of South Sudanese asylum seekers currently hosted by local communities in western Ethiopia.

Five women waiting in line for Danish Refugee Council’s emergency aid distribution suddenly went into labor during the distribution. Their parents, grateful for their newly born children and for the aid they were receiving, decided to name their children accordingly – the girl has been named ‘Danish’ and the four boys were all given the name ‘DRC’ to the surprise of exited aid workers in Gambella.

“Amazing!” – says Ethiopian Samuel Zewdie, leader of a Danish Refugee Council’s teams in Gambella. “The sounds of new born babies' cry have made the distribution team here even more committed.”

Danish Refugee Council has been working in Ethiopia since 2009 and started operations in western Ethiopia in 2011. Needs for emergency assistance increased due to the conflict between North and South Sudan that has forced many people to cross the border to security in Gambella. The South Sudanese asylum seekers have escaped conflict and attacks by criminals and insurgents in the areas they come from in South Sudan. Today, around 30,000 asylum seekers from Africa’s newest country are estimated to be living in Gambella, not knowing when they can return home and to what.

Provision of water and improved sanitation is among the services delivered by Danish Refugee Council in Gambella. Water and sanitation are critical for asylum seekers and the host communities struggling to cope with the influx of people from their neighbouring country. People affected by humanitarian crisis are generally more susceptible to illness and death from disease often related to inadequate sanitation, inadequate water supply and poor hygiene.

Training of traditional birth attendants is one of the activities that Danish Refugee Council is now considering to launch in Gambella where there is limited or no access to hospitals and health clinics. Access to mid-wives is limited and traditional birth attendants play a crucial role for women in the rural and isolated parts of the country.

“We are very lucky to have witnessed the smooth delivery and without complications. The healthy baby girl and boys and their mothers are all doing well, not least thanks to traditional birth attendants who were able to help,” says Samuel Zewdie.

The five children and their mothers are now taken care of in the host communities where they were born.  Here, Danish Refugee Council aims to continue the provision of humanitarian aid to the South Sudanese asylum seekers and currently works to ensure new funding for the assistance needed.

Samuel Zewdie and the Gambella team wonder if the five newly born children will become colleagues once they get older.

“Who knows, Mr. Drc and Ms. Danish may join and flourish in Danish Refugee Council in the future.”