NEWS: AYANTU, A HOST COMMUNITY WOMAN AT THE FOREFRONT OF IDP RESPONSE IN NEDJO
Addis Abeba, August 2019 – Ayantu Desta, 33, is a civil servant working at Nedjo Woreda Transport Authority Office and lives in Nedjo town, in West Wollega Zone of Oromia regional state. She is married and has three children. When the IDPS from Benishangul Gumuz region crowded Nedjo town in September 2018, Ayantu sheltered them near her home and provided them with food and clothing although she already had meager resources. She regularly shared the family breakfast with the displaced children who had nothing to eat in the morning.
Ayantu allowed more than 3,000 IDPs to fetch water from her tap and covered high bill for more than six months. She said that there was a shortage of water in the township and IDPs faced serious challenges to get water both for drinking and other domestic purposes. Most of the displaced people near her home were living in government buildings and other poorly constructed makeshift shelters.
An exemplary support given by Ayantu to the IDPs was to a woman who had given birth to a baby in the temporary shelter she was occupying. Ayantu covered all the medical costs from her own pocket and gave the mother the required support.
Ayantu was one of 16 committee members formed by the woreda administration to assist the IDPs in Nedjo Town. She worked in organizing people, collecting donations of different items from the community to assist IDPs. She was also in charge of assigning volunteers for food preparation for IDPs. She would wake up early in the morning and go to the IDP site to support food preparation, and sometimes prepared food for the IDPs herself when the assigned individuals did not show up.
Ayantu sometimes had to cover costs of oil from her pocket in case there were no donations from other members of the hosting community. She explained that she sometimes broke in tears when she was unable to provide the ingredients and supplies to assist the IDPs. Notwithstanding her commitment to the welfare of the IDPs, Ayantu also does her regular job at the office. She also uses her extra time, including weekends, to assist the displaced people in Nedjo Town. Ayantu and another male member were the only two people who remained steadfast in their humanitarian support to the IDPs. Most of the members abandoned ship due to various reasons and challenges. Ayantu remarked “I am a mother. I can’t afford to neglect my duty to help children in difficult circumstances.” Aynatu is indeed an exemplary woman who carried the burden of her regular job, family care, and at the same time assisting IDPs for more than six months in Nedjo Town. UNOCHA