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South Sudan: Food Distribution Gives Hope

Hundreds of people flood in for today’s food distribution. Most are mothers carrying their babies; some had gotten up early and walked for several hours, carrying big buckets, jugs of water, and their children. World Vision has been running a food distribution centre here in northern Bhar-el-Gazal since February, making sure that thousands of people do not succumb to starvation.

Adele is one of the mothers who hopes to receive life-saving aid. Akir, her 10-month-old daughter, sits on Adele’s lap, skin hanging from her frail, baby bones. She is severely malnourished and although she is trying to get some milk from her mother, there is none left. Adele has been eating leaves for the past weeks, but in the last four days, she has had no food at all.

“I heard about the distribution and it was my last hope,” says Adele as she tries to calm her crying baby Akir. “If I get supplies here today, I will be able to eat and, in return, it means that I can feed my baby too.” Overwhelmed with the task of taking care of a family, Adele’s husband abandoned her and their children.

It’s Adele’s first time at a distribution and she quickly learns that the process is well-structured. “I learned in the past that I can’t just show up here, but I first have to go through health screening to be qualified for free food,” she explains. 500 families are targeted today, which equals up to 3,500 individuals. Many have come to register.

“During each distribution, we sign up at least 600 additional households, so every month, our distribution grows, as does the need,” says Food Assistance Team Leader, Kenneth. “The first phase of distribution is providing food, but the next phase is conditional. Families receive food, but they have to participate in classes on farming, food hygiene as well as other vocational training. We want to make sure that once the situation has improved, families have the tools to provide for themselves.”

Kenneth managed to bring some order to the distribution, and families now line up in an orderly manner. Holding on to her registration card, Adele says, “For the first time, I’m confident that I can manage by myself. My husband divorced me saying he wouldn’t be able to provide for us, and then left. From today, I will be able to manage on my own,” her face pained, but also determined. “I’m thankful for this distribution. I can manage with World Vision’s help,” she says as she drags away her 25kg bag of beans.

Over 20 million people across East Africa in South Sudan, Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, urgently need humanitarian food assistance. More than 3.5 million children are suffering from malnutrition. Learn more about our Africa Hunger Relief or donate now to support our response.

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