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 Getrude Kikoti’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, Getrude.
My husband and I were born and raised in Makungu village, where we have a home. There is fertile land and so many fresh foods and fruits there. My education level is Standard Seven from Makungu primary school. My husband is a great supporter in everything. We farm for a living, mainly beans, corn, potatoes, cassava, avocados, and bananas.
I wake up at 6:00 in the morning to prepare my children for school, conduct some domestic activities, and prepare breakfast. I always prepare three meals per day. When I get time to relax, I love spending time with my children playing, telling stories, and sometimes teaching them. Currently, I get water right outside my house from the tank that Global Volunteers has awarded me with. So I save time by not having to go fetch water. I used to walk an hour from home to get one bucket of water, but this is no longer the case.
What can you tell us about your three sons, Getrude? How did you choose their names?
My first two children love to play together. They usually like to make car toys using plastic materials and driving them around. I have taught my oldest son, Meckson, who is ten, to perform some domestic activities so he sometimes helps me with chores such as washing dishes and cooking some foods.
I named Meckson because I had a nephew whose name was Meckson and he was very polite and disciplined, so I liked him very much and decided to give the same name to my son. Gideon is from the Holy Bible, and was a servant of God. I named Richard after one of the musicians I like from Tanzania whose famous name is “Rich Mavocal.”
I’m very happy to see my family happy and healthy. We are also building another house beside our current house as in the near future, we are planning to have one more child.
My children’s performance in school is very good. I have noticed a big difference with my children since I started the program, especially when they started to get meals at school. My children have become very active and they love school more than before. My little one is also improving in his weight. I used to feed my children porridge before they turned six months old, but then I learned from the workshop about how to help him grow better and I’ve done things differently with Richard. Currently, I’m working hard for my children to become better people in the future by providing them with everything children need, including better education. All in all, the program has taken me to a better place in parenting.
“All in all, the program has taken me to a better place in parenting.”– Getrude Kikoti, RCP mom
Have the Rise Against Hunger meals been important for your family’s nutrition?
Yes, my children and I like the Rise Against Hunger meals so much. I cook the meals twice per day for me and my little one, and my two boys who are in school get the meals twice a day at school. It has been very helpful, for sure. My children like rice more than any other food and the Rise Against Hunger meals have rice in them and so they always have an appetite for them. My children have become stronger and are always active. As for me, I produce enough breast milk for my child all the time. When cooking the meals, I usually add onions, salt, and oil, and we eat them with either vegetables or salad. Other foods that we eat are ugali, rice, pumpkin, potatoes, cassava, bananas, beans, meat, sardines, avocados, and vegetables. My children are not very picky.
When you learned about the hand-washing stations, what did you do to teach your family good hygiene?
The handwashing station has been very helpful to keep us clean all the time. I taught my husband and children from the very first day I got the hand-washing station. I used to insist with my children that they wash their hands as much as they can and now they are used to this technology. Formerly, we were not considering washing our hands, even if we were coming from using the bathroom and, of course, we used to suffer from regular diarrhea. But now, we wash our hands many times a day and the rate of diarrhea has decreased at large at our house, so we know the hand-washing station is a very good technology for everyone to adopt.
How have the EarthBoxes helped you supplement your family’s nutrition?
I was very happy to get the two EarthBoxes I currently have, which have spinach in them. I can’t wait to start eating the vegetables from the EarthBoxes because I will save more time. Instead of having to go to the farm to get vegetables, I’ll be able to get them right outside my house. To keep them safe, I have built a local table to keep the animals away from the EarthBoxes and I water the boxes every day.
“I have gained a lot of benefits from the program, including knowledge on health and nutrition matters and technologies to help me and my family stay healthy all the time.”– Getrude Kikoti, RCP mom
Have you made personal changes since joining the RCP Program that have resulted in better health for you and your children?
I have gained a lot of benefits from the program, including knowledge on health and nutrition matters and technologies to help me and my family stay healthy all the time. I have learned about hygiene – to keep my environment clean, but also personal hygiene. I insist on cleanliness with my family. The other thing that I’m doing different is breastfeeding my baby exclusively for the first six months. I used to give my children food before they turned six months old, but I did things differently with my little one in that I breastfed him exclusively for six months and he has grown healthier compared to his older brothers. Also, having a variety of foods in a day has been helpful because formerly, we used to eat ugali throughout the day. In the workshop, we learned about varieties of foods and how important that is, especially for children. That was very helpful for me and now my children have appetites to eat.