The Difference a Bit of Food Makes
One component of the holistic development of our project here is to give poorest of the poor families supplemental food every 6 weeks. So, what kind of value does this bit of food add for a family?
We provide 12.5 kgs of a staple grain named Teff. By providing them Teff, we are providing a whole grain source for baking injera that will provide food for the family for a while. We provide them the grain which the family will then take to have ground themselves, thereby increasing the nutritional value over providing them flour as well as giving them opportunity to participate in the process of providing for their family. By providing this Teff we are providing about 125 ETB of food to the family. It provides them a nutritious food that not only gives added benefit to the children who are already being fed in the Day Care, but also helps these moms to have the energy, strength and health to go to work. Let’s face it, if you’re hungry it’s pretty hard to feel good enough to work hard.
The other staple we are providing for a family is Cooking Oil. I know that for us in the West this may seem like a strange thing to be giving away. We are used to people in need getting day old bread and canned vegetables. However, Cooking Oil is a staple of the diet here and is used as the base for any kind of vegetable stews that are eaten with injera. It adds vitamins, calories, Omega 3s, and antioxidants that the poor would not otherwise receive in their diets. Because of a number of issues, cooking oil has become very scarce in Ethiopia over the past few months. This has led to shortages in which people at one point were waiting in lines at government shops for upwards of 5 hours to get 1 liter of cooking oil. When it was possible to find it, it was hugely expensive. To buy cooking oil at any other shop except for the gov’t shop meant that you would pay over 60 ETB per liter (that’s almost $4 USD for 1 liter of cooking oil!!) and to buy it at the Gov’t shop cost about 30 ETB. It is providing a staple for poor families that suddenly became very scarce and very expensive. Believe it or not, it can take our staff literally 4 days to source enough oil for us to give away.
A future initiative we are looking to pilot is sack gardens. We are convinced that we can help a family to provide the vegetables they need for their family using a garden planted in a sack. If this pilot works, it would mean that a family in the project could have a pretty complete source of food on an ongoing basis for their families. These sack gardens have worked well in the slums of Nairobi, so we are exciting to try them out here. Watch for more to come on this one soon.
In addition we provide drinking water treatment tablets on a monthly basis to help provide cleaner drinking water as well as laundry soap and body soap. A few times per year we also provide hair oil and Vaseline for body and hair care. These are basic necessities that are virtually impossible for these moms to provide for their families at this point in time.
This food does not feed a family for a month, but rather it is supplemental. It is meant to give a hand in a very difficult situation, but without stripping the dignity away for someone to provide for her own family. The supplement can help vulnerable families to live a bit further back from the edge. We also try to restore dignity in this process by having the Mom’s serve each other. They distribute the Teff and oil to each other, and thereby they own a bit of this process.
Thank you for your support and for partnering with us. A portion of each monthly family sponsorship is helping a family to have the food that they need in order to stay healthy as well as have energy to move towards sustainability. It is a gift of love that you are helping to provide. Thank you for “sharing your food with the hungry”!