Hope after conflict: PlayMatters Emergency Response Mechanism gives children another chance at learning

Through education, health and child protection interventions, children like Meisha and Asasegu are happy to be back in school safely

Feb 22, 2024

Meisha Mohammed, 15, ia a leader at her school, Derek Woira Primary School in Dessie, Ethiopia

Fifteen-year-old Meisha Mohammed (above) is a leader at her school, Derek Woira Primary School in Dessie, Ethiopia. She raises awareness among fellow learners about water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and especially best hygiene practices. She uses poems, drama, and songs that she organizes for events at her school to share her messages.

Meisha’s participation in WASH activities started in September 2022 when she joined the WASH club. But previously there was no WASH club in her school. It started with the implementation of the PlayMatters Emergency Response Mechanism (PM ERM) following the conflict in Ethiopia that destroyed her school facilities and homes.  

Implemented by the International Rescue Committee, Plan International and 10 sub-grantees, PM ERM improved access to WASH services, health & nutrition and child protection services for children affected by conflict and disaster in Amhara Region, Ethiopia. And Meisha’s school was among the many that had been destroyed by the conflict. 

She, together with other children, who benefitted from the PM ERM, received items such as bathing and laundry soap, underwear, and reusable sanitary pads from Concern Worldwide, one of the sub-grantees on the programme.  

“When I received the items, I felt proud that my gender was respected. It made me attend school happily,” Meisha said. She also attends school frequently regardless of the time of the month unlike before when her period would make her skip school. 

“Before the menstrual hygiene support, if I started menstruating from school, I would go home and not return until the period ends. At home, I would use local materials such as old clothes which would be an inconvenience,” she recalls. Attending school fully will help to bring Meisha’s dream of becoming an engineer closer.  

Aside from the menstrual hygiene items she received, Mohammed also learnt to be hygienic, clean her environment and get closer to friends through the WASH club. 


PlayMatters ERM team delivers some of the textbooks that were distributed to schools affected by the conflict.

At Borumeda Primary School in Dessie, where the ERM renovated a classroom and distributed scholastic materials, built a water tank, and taps for children to access clean water, Semaegzer Asasegu, 13, said he started enjoying coming to school after the ERM. “Our school had been damaged due to the war. But now school has changed. We received scholastic materials like books and bags and now I am always happy to come to school,” he said.


Asasegu (above) says he wants to be a doctor after his studies. “I want to be a doctor because there are different diseases in my community, and I want to help the people.” With him back to school with the ERM support, there is hope that Asasegu will one day realize this dream.

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