At Medical Teams, we don’t just measure success by data points or statistics. Numbers are only half the story. We’re also listening to what people in the communities we serve say. When 3 women in Ethiopia came forward to share their stories of care, we knew we were on the right track.

For example, one mother said,

“Medical Teams is a hope for this community.”

That’s the kind of sentiment we’re doing it all for.

In late 2020, we jumped into action to care for people who left conflict-affected areas of Ethiopia to seek refuge in safer places. Thousands of people made difficult journeys. The reality was that existing health systems in Ethiopia weren’t able to support the influx of patients. Cholera, malnutrition, and infant mortality rates were on the rise. We felt called to step in.

In addition to our robust support programs, we provide people in Ethiopia with essential medical care. It’s no secret that in times of conflict, women and children often bear the brunt of the health effects from violence. Our providers treat everything from chronic conditions to complications from pregnancy.

Today, as food assistance pauses and the recent conflict in Sudan make life increasingly difficult for women in Ethiopia and beyond, we’re highlighting the depth of 3 women’s strength and courage. Read on to meet Letish, Fatuma and her mother, and Te’emti!

Meet Letish

A woman in Ethiopia sits wearing a blue scarf in a chair against a blackboard.
Letish came to Medical Teams with an infection. Now she works in the clinic she once visited as a patient.

Letish came into the clinic under less-than-ideal circumstances, but it quickly became clear that she’s special. After she made a full recovery, she was hired on to help at the clinic. Hard-working and friendly, she’s a bright presence every day at the clinic as she goes about her work helping transport water. It’s a dramatic change from when she first arrived. Letish was experiencing severe pain in her breast and was worried for her life.

She explains, “Before receiving treatment, I was in a serious and life-threatening situation, which made me very anxious and scared.”

Because Letish’s community hasn’t had access to health care in the past, it took her a long time to see a provider. Fortunately, she found Medical Teams. One day, she saw our clinic while riding a bus to a nearby town. Months later, she remembered it when the pain in her breast became intense. She made her way to the clinic, even though she was nervous.

Letish says,

“Despite my initial fears and concerns, the care and support provided by Medical Teams helped me feel more confident in my recovery and optimistic about the future.”

The providers at the clinic quickly realized Letish had a severe case of mastitis that led to an infection. They prescribed her antibiotics and initiated a comprehensive treatment plan. They also followed up with her over a period of 2 weeks to make sure she was well again.

“The health care providers are doing an excellent job in providing care for patients,” Letish says gratefully. “I truly hope Medical Teams International continues its support and efforts in this area.”

After she recovered, Letish began working for the clinic. Now, her quality of life has improved and so has the health of her community.

Meet Fatuma and her mother

A woman and her child pose for the camera outside.
Fatuma and her mother had a difficult journey to safety. Then, Fatuma became malnourished.

At only 5 years old, Fatuma — a little girl from war-torn northern Ethiopia — had already shown more strength and courage than most people do in a lifetime. She and her mother journeyed over 60 miles, mostly on foot, to get to safety. Their hometown had become volatile and they were worried for their lives. Then, when the new place they settled in started experiencing conflict, they had to move again.

But the stress of the travel and the lack of resources took their toll on little Fatuma. She grew weak from lack of food, and her immune system couldn’t fight off disease. She was severely malnourished from the journey and had a terrible infection on her skin. They couldn’t find enough food. Her small body was beginning to shut down.

Her mother was terrified. She took Fatuma to 4 different clinics before she found help at Medical Teams.

“I thought my child was not going to live,” Fatuma’s mother says. “Thanks to Medical Teams she is alive and healthy again.”

Fatuma, suffering from malnutrition and an infection, was dangerously sick. Medical Teams rushed to provide her with emergency nutrition and antibiotics for her infection. They gave her mother clean water to care for her. For weeks, they followed up with Fatuma and her mother to make sure she recovered.

Fatuma’s mother says, “Medical Teams provided us with the right medical treatment and free health services right when we need it the most.”

Today, she hopes that Fatuma, her only child, will have abundant health and be able to pursue an education. More than anything, she wants her daughter to live a happy and fulfilling life.

Meet Te’emti

A woman in Ethiopia sits outside a clinic where she was treated for repeated infections.
Te’emti experienced repeated infections until Medical Teams prescribed her antibiotics.

Te’emti, a business owner and community leader in Esret, has made it her life’s mission to support the other women in Ethiopia around her. She’s resilient, courageous, and always ready to lend a helping hand.

But when she started to experience severe abdominal pain, she was the one who needed care. Te’emti lives nearby a Medical Teams clinic. Initially, she was nervous about going in.

“Before starting the treatment, I felt hopeless and thought my life was ruined,” Te’emti says. “I believed I would have to give up my daily life.”

Providers at the Medical Teams clinic listened to her concerns and eased her worries. They found that Te’emti had been suffering from severe urinary tract infections that were causing her pain. Te’emti received antibiotics to treat the infections. After discussing lifestyle changes, they also referred her to a nearby hospital for a possible surgery. In all, Te’emti regularly went to the clinic for treatment and check-ups for 5 months.

Te’emti says, “The journey has been tough, but I am grateful to have found the support and care that I needed at this health center.”

Today, Te’emti is back in her community lifting other women up. She’s also saving now to fund a more serious surgery. Most importantly, she’s hopeful about the future again.

Celebrating the courage of women in Ethiopia

Leaving home by choice is hard, but to do so under the threat of violence is unimaginable. That said, the stories of women in Ethiopia like Letish and Te’emti, and Fatuma and her mother, are common. Millions of people just like them are resilient in impossible circumstances every day.

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photo of Lauren Hobson


Lauren Hobson
Copywriter & Editor