The Big SFC Week

One part of the mission we have been preparing for, and now running, is the big SFC (supplementary feeding centre) program. Effectively this involves handing out a months worth of family ration to everyone within a certain criteria. One family gets 25kg of famix, five one litre bottles of oil and five very large pieces of soap. We were expecting about 200 people at each of the five locations we already run OTP's and so I had stockpiled literally tons of food and oil in the preceding week.

The big week certainly was an eye opening to behold. The whole team arrived back from each location in quite an exhausted state, having screened hundreds of mothers and children, thousands over the course of the week. Everyone ending up longing for Saturday and the end of the week. Screening involves a MUAC check and then, for some, a weight and height measure as well. Once accepted in the program, but before getting food, there is the paracheck to screen for malaria, a visit to the doctor and then to the pharmacy for a measles vaccination and others treatments as required. Finally it is around the corner to the food store.

One of the questions we were always asking ourselves was how a mother, usually malnourished herself, was expected to carry all this food and a child back home. In practice however they didn't seem to blink an eye. The baby was strapped onto the back, the bags of soap and oil carried in either hand, and the only assistance required was to get the 25kg bag of famix balanced on top of their heads. Off they would go up the hills back home, however many hours, carrying more than I can for a mountaineering trip back home with a fully padded ergonomic backpack.

At the end of the week, for a thank you to the staff, there was a BBQ organised at the local staff house. We wandered across in the evening, a fire was lit and we had bought a goat earlier in the day. It was a fantastic evening with good food and plenty of food and drink.

The really funny thing though was the dancing. Even in this mainly Ethiopian Christian culture, it seems that segregation is fully in force, guys and gals do not dance together. What this means in practice of course is that guys dance together and think nothing of it. For poor Australasian males like Matt and I it was quite something to try and get our heads around. Leslie found it all very funny, and we certainly saw fantastically funny dance moves from our staff that we never expected in the light of day.

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