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 the first 1,000 days of life. Read Aglina Myumbo’s interview about the RCP Program here.
We’re interested in learning about your normal daily life, where you and your husband are from, and how you earn a living, Aglina. What do you appreciate most about your village?
Both my husband and I were born and grew up here in Ukwega. My education level is standard seven and we help each other in all matters concerning our family. We farm for a living, mostly beans and corn, but also other crops for our family’s own consumption such as bananas, avocados, cassava, yams, and potatoes. Sometimes we have a surplus and we sell them. I’m also a tailor. I sew my children’s and my own clothes.
As far as my daily routine goes, I wake up at six in the morning and do some domestic activities and prepare my children for school. After that, I go to the farm. I spend most of my time in the field. We are able to get water just about five minutes from here. When I get time to relax, I use it for tailoring activities. I usually don’t have time with my friends, but I sometimes get time to read the Bible.
The thing I appreciate most about Ukwega is the land because you can grow crops without fertilizer. The land here is fertile.
What can you tell me about your children, Aglina? How did you choose their names?
My children like sports more than anything else. My husband and I selected the names for our children. There is nothing that we really considered except that Fausta is named after her aunt, whom I love so much. (Check out the RCP birthday post from November 2020 when Fausta turned two.) My children have been doing well at school, except for one, but now he has started to improve. I’m happy that my children are now healthy and have energy to learn all the time because of the meals that they eat at school. I hope my children will be better people in the future — I do not want them to finish studying at standard 7. I want them to be well educated and become teachers, nurses, or doctors. I’m sure the program will continue to be helpful so that my children can have a bright future because so far, I have already been able to see the impact of the program on my children.
“I’m happy that my children are now healthy and have energy to learn all the time because of the meals that they eat at school.”– Aglina Myumbo, RCP mom
When you learned about hand-washing stations, what did you decide to do at home? What did you do to convince your family to practice good hygiene?
After I learned about handwashing, the first thing I did at home was educate the whole family about what I had gained from the workshops. We started to practice washing our hands even before the hand-washing station was installed. I used to check on my children to make sure they washed their hands every time they came from the bathroom, before and after eating, and when they came inside after playing with their friends. I reinforced this practice with my children so much and this made them adopt the technology. Since we implemented this practice, I’ve never seen my children suffer from stomach problems as they did before.
What made me believe that this technology is good to adopt is seeing other villages, like Ipalamwa and Lulindi, benefitting from it. I used to see and hear from my friends in Ipalamwa that this was a good practice. That is why once we joined the program and acquired this knowledge about handwashing, it was easy to believe and adopt.
Have the Rise Against Hunger meals been important for your family’s nutrition?
Fausta is very picky with other foods, but she eats the Rise Against Hunger meals very well. She likes eating the meals plain with nothing else. I add a little salt when cooking them. Fausta and I eat the meals twice per day. I love the meals because my daughter likes them so much. She is now doing great and her weight is good. She has gained weight since she started eating the meals. My older children eat the meals at school, too. They are very healthy and active nowadays. Other foods that we eat are ugali, sardines, beans, potatoes, meat, cassava, cooked bananas, vegetables, and fruits, mostly avocados.
What are the personal changes you’ve made in your life since joining RCP that have resulted in better health for you and you children? What are you doing differently now?
Truly, I have changed greatly because I now practice not only hand hygiene but also general hygiene with my children and the house. I also began boiling water to drink and I have improved a lot in my personal hygiene as well.
I have also made changes with how I prepare meals for my children, especially my little one. Formerly, I was not always preparing breakfast or I was just cooking ugali in the morning, and that would be their only meal until the evening. But now I’m very sensitive about preparing good meals for my children – three meals per day with vegetables and fruits.
Currently, I’m very sensitive to my children’s matters. I make sure they have time to study after school and are not only playing around all the time. I also take time to talk and sing with my little one to help her grow well. I make sure that I prepare three meals a day for my children and help them with their hygiene, ensuring they bathe every day and wash their hands frequently.
“Currently, I’m very sensitive to my children’s matters. I make sure they have time to study after school and are not only playing around all the time. I make sure that I prepare three meals a day for my children and help them with their hygiene, ensuring they bathe every day and wash their hands frequently.”– Aglina Myumbo, RCP mom
If you have been using the clinic services in Ipalamwa, how are they different from medical services available before the clinic opened?
I haven’t needed to go to the clinic, yet, but my husband has received services there. He said the services there are great because he had been to many hospitals, but only this clinic recognized the problem that he was suffering from. The medications they gave him have been helping him a lot.
What are your family’s biggest challenges? How do you try to address them?
Raising children on the right path is always hard, but I have learned that warning a child violently does not help. So, I now use a different way to warn my children, like talking to them as adults in a calm way.
What are you most proud of in your family? What do you hope for in the future?
I feel very good when I see my children and I’m proud to be their mother. I hope to continue working hard farming, but I also want to have a tree farm so that we can sell timber in the future.