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 Apendaye Myumbo’s interview about the RCP Program here.
Apendaye, we’re interested in your daily life. Did you grow up in Ukwega? Could you tell us about your normal activities?
Yes, I was born and raised in Ukwega village. My husband, Enock, is also from Ukwega. We both finished standard 7 here in the village. As for my daily life, I usually wake up at 6:00 a.m. and do the domestic activities like fetching water, cleaning up, and preparing breakfast. After that, I head up to the farm with my husband while my children are in school, and come back at 4:00 in the afternoon. We always cook lunch at the farm and eat there together before we return. In the evening I just prepare dinner for my family. On the days I don’t go to the field, I stay home to do the domestic activities, including finding firewood. When I get time to relax, I usually sleep. I like reading books, especially the books that my children read at school. It is very rare for me to have time talking with my neighbors or friends. I love Ukwega because it is my home place and I can easy farm and get to live with my family.
Would you tell us a bit about your children’s interests and personalities?
Winfrida loves to sing all the time, and she loves going to church. Aigon loves to read and write. Whenever he comes home from school, he settles down and writes on papers and sometimes on the walls of our house. I still don’t know about Lenifa because she is young, but she is always very polite and calm. Habibu is too young for me to observe what he likes, yet.
My wish is for my children to be educated enough to be doctors and nurses so that they can help me and everyone else around. I always make sure that they get enough time to study after they come back from school. Their performance in school is also very good and now they have become even more active because of the meals they are receiving. So I’m very grateful to the program because it is playing a big role for the good growth of my children. I’m also working hard to provide the necessary needs for them at school.
I’m always happy to see my children happy and in good health. In a few months to come, I have a plan to buy a solar system so that my children can have light whenever they want to study at night.
“Their performance in school is also very good and now they have become even more active because of the meals they are receiving. So I’m very grateful to the program because it is playing a big role for the good growth of my children.”– Apendaye Myumbo, RCP Mom
How do you know that washing with soap and water often is important for preserving your health?
My family and I use the handwashing station all the time when hands need to be cleaned. I have also taught my children on the use of handwashing station and they usually wash their hands after they come from school before entering the house. Ever since I taught my children, they have been very interested and receptive to the technology. My husband is also very supportive of handwashing with our children.
There is a big difference since we started washing our hands because it’s an easy technology. We used to wash our hands in a small basin, which was also not appropriate because everyone used the same water in the basin. So the handwashing station has helped to ease the process and it is a safer way of keeping our hands clean. Also, since we started washing our hands effectively, we have not been suffering from any diseases compared to how it was before. The handwashing stations have been very helpful and interesting to use.
How important have the Rise Against Hunger meals been to your family?
The Rise Against Hunger meals are very important to me and my child because they provide us with the necessary vitamins. It’s been a month since we started to receive the meals. My child has weighed very well this time since his weight has increased by one whole kilogram, which had not been happening for a couple of previous months. It used to increase only a few grams. So I’m very happy that this time his weight has gone up more than before. I hope the meals have played a greater role. I also feel stronger and have enough breast milk when I eat the meals. My child loves the Rise Against Hunger meals more than any other foods. He sometimes refuses all other foods and eats the Rise Against Hunger meals. Other foods that we eat are ugali, beans, vegetables, bananas, sardines, meat when we can afford it, cassava, sweet potatoes, and fruits (mostly avocados). We always get three meals per day.
I’m happy for my children who are at the primary school because they get meals twice per day at school. Since they started with the meals at school, they have been very active. They don’t sound hungry after school as it was before and they really enjoy the meals.
“Since they started with the meals at school, they have been very active. They don’t sound hungry after school as it was before and they really enjoy the meals.”– Apendaye Myumbo, RCP mom
What parts of RCP are most important to you and why?
I have benefited a lot from the program. Life has been very different. The services at the Ipalamwa General Clinic are great and systematic. Everyone there is welcoming and caring. This is very different from other dispensaries. The services that I’m getting now — I never got them before, especially at the clinic where we are treated for free. I do not have to think of where to get money when my children or I are sick. It’s wonderful.
Also, we have been learning a lot from the program, especially from the workshops. I have learned how to feed and breastfeed the baby, which has been very helpful. I joined the program when my child was three months old and I have been considering everything that I was taught in the workshops. I have seen the difference in the growth of my fourth child. His understanding is really good if you compare it to that of my other three children when they were his age. I love the workshops because I usually learn a lot from them. I love home visits also because I like to be visited and it is easy for me to express my challenges to the caregiver.
I have also benefited from the co-ops because I have learned new skills. I have learned how to make soap and the sale of sardines has been very helpful to us.
“I joined the program when my child was three months old and I have been considering everything that I was taught in the workshops. I have seen the difference in the growth of my fourth child. His understanding is really good if you compare it to that of my other three children when they were his age.”– Apendaye Myumbo, RCP mom
What are your family’s biggest challenges or struggles? How do you try to address them?
One of my biggest challenges is with my child Winfrida, who is suffering from a kidney problem, but I’m grateful to Global Volunteers for their clinic in Ipalamwa because my child gets medicines every month without any cost. She is doing better now. Formerly, I used to go to Iringa, which was very costly and sometimes I couldn’t afford it.