An Interview with an MHCP Worker in Gambella

Mary Humanitarian Worker - Action Against Hunger

Mary is a psychosocial worker for Action Against Hunger in Gambella, Ethiopia.


Action Against Hunger’s humanitarian workers are an integral part in carrying out our mission, which is to fight hunger and its root causes worldwide. Did you know that more than 95% of our staff are local to the countries in which they work?

We had a chance to speak with one of our humanitarian workers, Mary. Here’s what she had to say:

Could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Mary, I am a psychosocial worker currently working in the Mental Health and Care Practices (MHCP) program for Action Against Hunger in Gambella.

When did you start working for Action Against Hunger?
I started working with Action Against Hunger in August of 2018. My motivation to work in Gambella started when I visited the camp months before. I realized how devastating the situation was for mothers, children, and all whom were suffering from depression due to the trauma they were exposed to. I felt the need to help them out, but at that time I did not know how to. So, when Action Against Hunger called for psychosocial workers, I was there ready to help.

What is a typical day for you at the Nguenyyiel refugee camp?
I live in Gambella, so every morning I take a bus provided by Action Against Hunger to get to the refugee camp. We start work at 9 am by welcoming the beneficiaries and participating in activities with them. Then we direct them to the specific areas where they will receive the treatment they came for:

  • Ready-to-use therapeutic food (e.g. Plumpy’nut) for the treatment of child malnutrition in the Outpatient Treatment Centre;
  • Super Cereal to prevent malnutrition through our Blanket Supplementary Feeding Program;
  • Support through our Mental Health and Care Practices Program;
  • In-patient treatment of acute malnutrition in our in-patient Stabilization Program;

From there, I go to the baby friendly space where we do some group discussions with the mothers and provide them information concerning care practices. We also do individual counselling with the mothers if they need it. The morning sessions finish at noon. At 2 pm we start the evening sessions in the same way that we conducted the activities in the morning, and by 4 pm we head back to Gambella.

How do you gain the trust of the beneficiaries so they are able to tell you their issues?
By being honest with them and showing them that they can trust us. As well they’ve seen other people succeeding in our program, so when they go back to the community and share their stories on how they were helped, that will be a motivation for others in need to come to us. These beneficiaries become our best ambassadors.

What motivates you to come to work when you wake up?
When I wake up in the morning, I have this feeling that I still have an unfinished mission at the refugee camp. I go to work not because it is my job, but because there are lots of people in the camp that still need my help.

Where do you see yourself in the future?
I think my future looks bright. To be honest since I started working here, I can say that it has changed so many aspects of my life. I have learned that so many people go through so many hardships, and they still believe there is hope for better things to come. As long as those people have hope, I will strive to help them in any way. But, I cannot go at it alone, we need assistance from others to help those in need to move on to a better life.