about the author
Irene is currently a volunteer at WFP Namibia.
Frederic Mbate has perfect qualifications for working in the supplementary feeding centre at Osire refugee settlement in central Namibia. Prior to leaving Rwanda in 2002, he used to be a hotel kitchen assistant.
Having started in the settlement's supplementary feeding centre as a volunteer cook in 2007, Frederic took over as a nutritional assistant when the position became vacant in 2011. His job is to ensure that undernourished children receive a balanced diet and that the chronically malnourished regain their health through careful management of their food intake.
WFP has provided food assistance at the Osire refugee settlement to Angolan refugees and asylum seekers from the Great Lakes region since 1999. In addition to providing general food distributions, WFP - in partnership with UNHCR and the Government of Namibia - has been supporting a supplementary feeding centre to improve the nutritional status of undernourished children under five.
"I like working here because we feed the children, teach them and their parents about nutrition, and interact and communicate with many different people," says Frederic.
The centre provides people with three meals a day. WFP contributes maize meal, corn soya blend, vegetable oil and salt while other dry foods are provided by partner organisations. Fresh vegetables come from a home-grown garden which is maintained by Frederic and his staff.
The job does not come without its challenges. Frederic and his team are volunteers and remuneration is not substantial. They also have to deal with children not keeping to recovery schedules. Working parents in the settlement sometimes leave their children at the feeding centre or leave older children in charge of younger ones while they're away working to supplement their incomce.
"It's harder to explain to a child taking care of another child the nutritional needs so that they can understand well and are responsible," he explains.
Before the repatriation of more than 2,900 Angolan refugees in 2012, this centre provided meals for 50 children every day. Nowaday, there is less cooking to be done following the return home of many refugees. But as long as there is a need, says Frederic, he and his team will look after those who need feeding.