Kakuma News Reflector – A Refugee Free Press

Community Talking Point: MixMe

Posted in Community and Culture by KANERE on May 12, 2009

Volume 1, Issue 4-5 / March-April 2009

KANERE talks to community members on the latest hot topic: What do you think about the newly introduced nutritional supplement MixMe? The perspectives of locals, refugees, and internationals weave a diverse fabric of public opinion.

MixMe Sachets in boxes

MixMe Sachets in boxes

Anonymous refugee from Congolese community:

“The way we see MixMe as refugees seems to be having a secret behind it that is not yet clear, but transparency will still come out. We know that Kenya produces food that has vitamins and minerals. Can WFP change this MixMe into locally available or locally produced food rather than bringing externally produced chemicals that are harmful to refugees, who are used as laboratory animals for someone’s university research?”

Mark, refugee from the Sudanese community:

“It is good and we like it. It should always be given out but some people have to be made aware of it because many people have misunderstood it.”

Anna, refugee woman from the Somali community:

“It’s okay, but vitamins are also found in meat, vegetables, etc. Why couldn’t WFP supply local food containing these vitamins and minerals?”

Sudanese student at Jebel Mara Primary School:

“I’m wondering why the UNHCR and WFP were campaigning for MixMe yet they did not campaign for all the other food stuffs. People don’t want this stuff, as it has created many different perceptions among the refugees. Women think that it’s a kind of family-planning drug and they fear that it may alter with their reproductive channels. It also has no country where it was manufactured, and expiration date is not visible clearly. If it is good for human consumption, then even Kenyans should be able to get it or buy it in the shops, but it is not in shops. Why?”

Sarah, Turkana woman married to a Sudanese refugee:

“Our children had so much diarrhea when we put MixMe into the food or porridge. So, we have kept them in the house and they are very many because we get them from distribution centre and we don’t use them.”

Anonymous refugee:

“Although MixMe has vitamins and minerals the box does not specify the source of those vitamins. Can producers specify whether it’s from animals or plants and fruits, and indicate which type of plants and animals, such as goat, camel, cow, pig? This is crucial because people may be forced to eat food that is against someone’s spiritual or cultural belief. For example, Muslims who do not eat pigs may find themselves in a circumstance of eating it while it is forbidden.”

Student at Jebel Mara Primary School:

“When I first took MixMe I experienced some stomach disorder and I became very weak. People fear the sign on the sachet of MixMe. They think it is an animal and so they think MixMe is for animals and not people to consume.”

Zarah, refugee woman from the Somali community:

“It is really bad. I don’t use it anymore. My child and I felt as if we were drunk. I throw it away or give it to those who want to use it. (She offers some to our KANERE journalist.) It makes people have diarrhea and you know this place is too hot and if you don’t get medical attention fast, then you can easily die due to dehydration. Why can’t UNHCR do away with MixMe and instead bring enough water to the people?”

Dorcas Ewoi, local from the Turkana community:

“Local people have not been given or benefited from MixMe.”

Bisengo, refugee from Congolese community:

“When consumed, MixMe increases the appetite and people develop a state of eating too much. While WFP offers little quantity calculated for only 15 days, we’ve been finding ourselves in condition of food stock out before the expected time—four days before reaching the 15th day.”

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