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 Aneth Lukosi’s interview about the RCP Program here.
Aneth, we’re interested in your background, how your family earns a living, and who you live with.
I was born and grew up here in Lulindi. I attended Ukwega secondary school through Form 4. I live with my parents and my siblings. My parents support me in everything I do, including financial help. We farm for a living, mostly beans and corn, but also sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, vegetables, and avocados.
What can you tell us about your son, Gian, and what he likes to do? How did you choose his name?
Gian like sports and music. He just turned four years old on February 2. He is in kindergarten at Mawaki school. I’m working hard to make sure that he reaches his dreams of whatever he wishes to be. I want him to study as much as he can as I will keep on providing for him. As soon as I delivered him, I asked the caregiver who was visiting me by at the time, Winnie, to name my child and she suggested “Gian” and I loved the name. So my baby’s name came from my RCP Caregiver.
How has the hand-washing station helped your family? How often do you use it?
I use the handwashing station whenever I feel like my hands are dirty. I use it mostly when I come from the bathroom, after serving the animals, after coming from the farm, before and after cooking, and before and after having meals. We did not face any challenges or difficulties in adopting this technology. I was happy because everyone in our house finds it helpful. The handwashing station has been a benefit to all of us as a family.
First, it has simplified the process because now you can just wash your hands whenever you need to since the soap and water are always there and you don’t have to go through other processes of finding where water or soap is. This is something that makes many people not wash their hands. So now when someone comes from the bathroom and finds everything is ready right outside for them to wash their hands, it becomes simple to practice handwashing. Also, the rate of diseases like stomach fever and coughing in our house has decreased since we seriously started to practice handwashing. I think washing our hands with clean water and soap removes all the bacteria that may cause diseases in our bodies.
Have the Rise Against Hunger meals been important for your and your child’s nutrition? What other foods does your family eat?
I received the Rise Against Hunger meals until Gian turned two years old. The meals were great and helpful because first of all, my child became healthy as he was eating the meals and his weight was increasing whenever I went to the clinic for checkups. I was also benefitting because I was able to provide my child with enough breast milk and he was not feeling hungry. I also felt stronger.
Another important benefit of the meals is that it helped us to reduce our food budget, especially for my child, because he was eating the meals twice per day. I just had to provide the other one or two meals in a day, so it helped a lot. Now I have to provide all the meals in a day which is a little difficult, although he does get fed Rise Against Hunger meals at school. I make sure that my child gets what is best for him to grow better.
I currently make porridge out of grains like rice, corn, wheat, millet, and peanuts. I cook this for him twice every day. I add the micronutrients provided by Global Volunteers. Other meals he eats are ugali, rice, cooked bananas, meat like beef or chicken, fish if it is available, sardines, beans, vegetables every day, and fruits, like avocados and bananas. My child is not picky. He eats all foods, but meat is his favorite. If there is any chance of getting these meals again, I will be grateful.
How has the EarthBox helped supplement your family’s nutrition?
The EarthBox has helped my family to eat nutritious food. I grow green peppers and I have already harvested some to use when cooking. The food tastes very nice with green peppers and at the same time, we get vitamins in our bodies. At the beginning, I had some difficulties because the seedlings were not growing well. But I reported this to my RCP Caregiver and I got help. I have made good soup.
What are the personal changes you’ve made in your life since joining RCP that have resulted in better health for you and your children? What are you doing differently now?
My life has changed a lot since I entered the program because of the things that we are taught in it. Everything in the program is important, but I was especially happy that I got education on maternal health because I was pregnant when I joined. I couldn’t get this kind of education anywhere else in the village, so it was very helpful. I gave birth to a healthy baby and he is still doing great. The program is helpful because of the teachings that we get, which help us help our children. I love workshops because we learn new things that I did not know before. I also like home visits because, first, visitors are a blessing, and I believe in learning something new every day when I’m visited.
I’m also very happy that the program formed the co-op for women who have some skills. I am a member of the co-op and I have gained more entrepreneurial skills like soap making. My tailoring work has been improving. The program has been very helpful in this, too, because we got some new skills and the staff helps us to find the market for the things we make. So every member of the co-op is benefitting since we sometimes earn money and it helps with some needs at home.
“My life has changed a lot since I entered the program because of the things that we are taught in it. Everything in the program is important, but I was especially happy that I got education on maternal health because I was pregnant when I joined. I couldn’t get this kind of education anywhere else in the village, so it was very helpful.”– Aneth Lukosi, RCP mom
“I’m also very happy that the program formed the co-op for women who have some skills. I am a member of the co-op and I have gained more entrepreneurial skills like soap making. Every member of the co-op is benefitting since we sometimes earn money and it helps with some needs at home.”– Aneth Lukosi, RCP mom
If you have been using the clinic services in Ipalamwa, how are they different from medical services available before the clinic opened?
The services are great and professional. They also attend to the patient according to his/her needs, meaning they listen to the patient. Their reception is great as well. I’m also happy that we have this clinic here and we get the services for free.
How has Gian been doing in the last year? What aspects of the RCP Program have especially helped you in the last year?
Gian has been doing great in the last year. He did not have any serious health problems. He just had the flu and a cough once. He is growing well and his weight is increasing. In the last year, the meals that we have received have been a big help. Also, the medical services at the Ipalamwa General Clinic are great.
What are you most proud of in your family? What do you hope for in the future?
I love my child and I just feel good when I see him all the time. In the next few years, I have a plan of building my own house here in the village and moving out of my parents’ house. I need to build my own home. My hopes as a parent to my son are that he can study very hard so that he can go to higher learning. I would love for him to become a doctor when he grows up.