In this series, families in the Reaching Children’s Potential (RCP) Demonstration Program in Tanzania explain how their participation improves their lives. Global Volunteers’ RCP Program engages short-term volunteers to help parents deliver essential services improving health, eradicating hunger, and enhancing cognition – with the goal of eliminating child stunting in the Ukwega Ward and throughout Tanzania. Through RCP, families obtain the nutrition, health care, knowledge, technology, and encouragement needed to combat stunting, and to ensure their children can realize their full potential. The RCP Program is a child-focused, parent-driven, family-centered, and community-led comprehensive effort. It begins with pregnancy, and continues through the 18th birthday, with a focus on on the first 1,000 days of life. Read Adelina Kikula’s interview about the RCP Program here.
Adelina, we’d love to learn about your background, where you grew up, and your daily routine.
I was born and raised in Makungu. I love Makungu because of the weather and many things are grown here. Makungu is a very nice place for everyone. My husband is also from Makungu, and this is where we met and got married. My education level is Form 4 (grade 11). My husband is my great supporter.
We farm for a living, mainly beans and corn. Other crops that we cultivate are bananas, cassava, yams, sweet potatoes, vegetables, and avocados. I also have a small business selling fish, which I get from Iringa.
I usually wake up at 5 a.m. and perform domestic activities and prepare breakfast for my family. After that, Edson heads to school and my husband and I head to the farm with Suzy. We usually come back at about one in the afternoon and prepare lunch. After that, we get ourselves ready if there is a session at church. On the days that I don’t go to the farm, I just do domestic activities like seeking firewood, fetching water (which is ten minutes from here), washing clothes, and other chores. If I get time to relax, I just use it to sleep. I love reading books, but especially the Bible.
Are you adding the Rise Against Hunger meals to your daily diet? Have you noticed any changes since you started eating them?
My children and I eat the meals and we have seen positive changes. When I cook the meals, I just add a little salt and oil and we usually have them with sardines, fish, meat, beans, vegetables, and avocados. Other foods that we eat are ugali, beans, vegetables, sardines, sweet potatoes, cassava, yams, and fruits, especially bananas and avocados. We usually get three meals per day but my little one may have up to four meals, along with breastfeeding. The meals are very helpful to provide us with the necessary vitamins.
As for me, I have been producing enough breast milk and I have become stronger. Suzy has increased in weight, something which had not happened for five months. For five months straight she weighed ten kilograms (22 pounds). But we started eating the meals in June, and the first time she was weighed in the first week of August, she weighed 11.2 kilograms (24 pounds 11 ounces). It is amazing! Edson is also getting the meals at school, too. He has become very active and his health is at least stable.
What parts of the RCP Program are most important to you, Adelina?
I love everything about the program. Before the program, we didn’t know which kinds of foods to give to the children. Sometimes we would just cook ugali in the morning to go to the farm and stay for the whole day without thinking of something else for the children to eat. It’s not like we did not have the ability, but because we did not know the importance. So when the program was introduced, we were taught a lot about how a child should eat and how many meals. This has been very important. From the program I have learned about good nutrition for children, hand washing, and the importance of boiling water, which is very important for our health.
The way my son, Edson, grew is very different from how Suzy is doing. Suzy is very healthy compared to her brother. Edson used to be very weak and was sick often. He was suffering from seizures and I was struggling a lot to help him. It was hard. But when I brought him to the Ipalamwa General Clinic, he was given treatment and medication. Ever since, he hasn’t been suffering from seizures.
The services at the Ipalamwa General Clinic are very nice because one can be examined for many different things, which is not the case at other dispensaries. There are also professionals who know a lot about health issues.
I love the workshops because we have been taught a lot of things about our children’s growth. I also love the home visits because we are always reminded of what we are supposed to do and I love the advice that we usually get from home visits.
“From the program I have learned about good nutrition for children, hand washing, and the importance of boiling water, which is very important for our health.”– Adelina Kikula, RCP mom
How did you implement using the hand-washing station with your family, Adelina?
We use the hand-washing station to wash our hands all the time now. It was easy for me to teach Edson to use it because they were already taught about the importance of using the hand-washing station at school. So adopting this practice with him was not a challenge.
It is very important to wash hands with soap and water because we are prevented from getting diseases. This is true because before the hand-washing workshops and hand-washing station, we used to suffer a lot from diarrhea and we didn’t know the reason behind it. But after we got education on the matter and effectively practiced hand washing, we never got sick. My family is now happy always because all of us are healthy.
“It’s not like we did not have the ability, but because we did not know the importance. So when the program was introduced, we were taught a lot about how a child should eat and how many meals. This has been very important.”– Adelina Kikula, RCP mom
What can you tell us about your children, Adelina? What are your hopes for them?
Edson loves playing with his classmates and friends. He loves to make toy cars and drive them around. This is what he likes to do most when he comes home from school. Maybe he will be a driver when he grows up. For Suzy, I would like her to become a nurse so that she can help me in the future. The program has been very helpful to my children because they are healthy and happy all the time. I’m very happy with the program. Edson’s performance at school is also good and I hope he will continue that way. In some months or years to come, I have a plan to buy pigs to raise. I feel so happy and at peace when I see my children happy and healthy.