The project coordinator from Volkshilfe for our SCOP project, Julia Webinger together with Alice Kurz-Wagner the project fundraiser of Volkshilfe, visited us from 9th to 13th July to see the project and observe the progress it has made. The main reason was to visit the project site and to get to know the people benefiting from the program. Our guests were accompanied by the Executive Director of Palm Corps and our project staff throughout their visit.
The representatives of Volkshilfe were introduced to the staff of Palm Corps and engaged in discussions to note down achievements and challenges during the project. They were also shown around the office before touring the areas where the project is implemented. In the field, they were able to interact with beneficiaries, listen to their views on what changes the project has brought into their lives as well as answer pending questions they had. They also went to the Siripi Health Center 1 to try and understand better on why mal nutrition is persistent in the area.
The causes of under-nutrition are diverse. Migrant labor of the refugee and host communities leave some children without adequate care, and there are difficulties in reaching target populations with consistent primary health care due to long distance and almost no ambulance service. Access to adequate food is limited for low-income earners among the host communities whereas the refugees entirely depend on food distribution program offered by UNHCR. The consistent message from health and nutrition workers, however, is that the biggest challenge is lack of awareness of good nutrition practices. Despite the variety of foods available, there is an over-reliance on wheat which is a widely grown crop in the region.
The representatives of Volkshilfe observed the distribution of milk and soy which contains minerals and vitamins to some of the pupils of Yelulu primary school. Distribution of these supplements at the school started in April 2018. The team noted that some pupils were still underweight and some looked as if they were four or five years younger. When questioned as to how many times per day they received a meal besides the school feeding, most of the pupils indicated twice or sometimes three times a day; some, however, said they had only one meal a day. The children also performed a song for the donors expressing their gratitude in having them visit.
The final visitation was made in two homes of children benefiting from the project that had a very noticeable positive change in their health since being put on the program. The donors had a one on one conversation with the parents of these children who acknowledged the importance of having the school feeding program. They were also grateful to the donors for going out of their way to ensure that they are healthy. The visits in both homes were concluded by a symbolic planting of a mango tree that would represent growth and the hope for a better future.