In northern Ethiopia, close to the border with Eritrea, you will find a crowded place of hope. It is the Mai-Aini Refugee Camp. Here, thousands of Eritreans have arrived to begin the process of starting anew.
The camp was established in 2008, through the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). According to a report last March, the camp accommodates just over 17,000 Eritrean refugees; nearly 75 percent of them are between the ages of 12 and 59.
Several international organizations are helping the men, women and children living in the camp — working to provide water, sanitation, education and child protection. Jesuit Refugee Service (J.R.S.) started serving the camp in 2010, offering programs for psychosocial, pastoral and educational support. CNEWA has been working in collaboration with J.R.S. to bring help to people who are frightened, hungry, desperate and very often alone.
Most of the needs are emotional and psychological. Many in the camp suffer from loneliness, depression, boredom and despair. Some of the elderly feel alienated and useless among the younger refugees, many of whom are quickly losing their culture and identity. Resources are few, but the needs are great.