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 Husia Kisese’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, Husia.
I was born and raised in another city called Makambako. I completed education through standard seven. I met my husband in Makambako when he was came to do some business. His education level is also standard seven. We farm for a living – beans, corn, potatoes, avocado, and cassava.
I always wake up at 6:00 in the morning to conduct some domestic activities. Recently, I am spending more time at home than in the field because my son, Shalfan, is still a baby. I fetch water about five minutes from here. When I get time to relax, I always like reading my Holy Bible and other religious books and telling stories with neighbors.
What do you appreciate about Ipalamwa that is different from Makambako?
I appreciate Ipalamwa because of how fruits are always available. Also, there is fertile land. In Ipalamwa one can cultivate crops without using fertilizer. In Makambako, you have to use fertilizer if you want crops.
What can you tell us about your three sons, Husia? What do they like to do?
Yohana and Providence love to play with soccer balls with their friends and they also like to make toy cars and drive them around. Yohana’s performance in school is great, especially when I ask him questions about what he has learned in school. Providence is doing well in school as well. As for Shalfan, he is still very young and it is hard for me to determine. Shalfan looks stronger and more healthy when I compare his growth with that of my older children. So in one way or another, the program has been very helpful. My children are doing great and I hope the RCP Program will continue to empower us as parents to help them have a good future. I would like them to have better jobs in the future like doctors, engineers, and teachers. Their father and I are working hard to make sure we invest in our children’s education.
How has the hand-washing station helped your family? Do you find it easy to use?
When I learned about washing hands, I taught my family about the importance of washing our hands with soap and water. They were all receptive and started to implement this practice. It was sometimes difficult for my children to remember to wash their hands until I reminded them, but now they have adopted this practice and without my reminding them, they do it. I’m happy that we are all healthy and not suffering from diarrhea as we used to. Before getting the hand-washing station from Global Volunteers, we used to have a wooden hand-washing station, which was not effective. We are so happy to have this effective hand-washing station from the program.
“I’m happy that we are all healthy and not suffering from diarrhea as we used to. We are so happy to have this effective hand-washing station from the program.”– Husia Kisese, RCP mom
Have the Rise Against Hunger meals been important for your family’s nutrition?
The Rise Against Hunger meals have been very helpful in that now I produce enough breast milk for my child. My children love the meals more than any other foods. I always prepare these meals twice per day. When cooking the meals, I add salt and oil. Other foods that we eat are ugali, potatoes, yams, cassava, sardines, meat, vegetables, and fruits. My children are not very picky. They eat all the foods that serve them. My children are very happy with the Rise Against Hunger meals and they have become very active nowadays.
How have the EarthBoxes helped supplement your family’s nutrition?
I feel so happy having the EarthBoxes because they help me when I need greens for a meal, especially when vegetables are scarce around the village. I have three boxes — one for spinach, cucumbers, and green pepper. I water them every day to make sure that I get great output. I’m so happy with the boxes because most of the time, I don’t have to walk very far seeking the vegetables since I have them right outside my house.
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?
Nowadays, I wash my hands regularly, which was not the case before joining the program. I have also learned to give my children a variety of foods and I have seen this has been helpful for my children in that they always have an appetite to eat.
If you have been using the clinic services in Ipalamwa, how are they different from medical services available before the clinic opened?
The services at the Ipalamwa General Clinic are amazing. I was lucky to give birth at that clinic. The staff is very professional and they handle a patient with care. I was very happy with the way I was taken care of during my delivery.
What are your family’s biggest challenges? How do you try to address them?
One of the challenges is my adjusting to the new environment because Ipalamwa is not my original home. There is a huge difference because here, it is a hard geographical location and the farms are very far. But now it has become my home, so I’m used to this environment.
What are you most proud of in your family? What do you hope for in the future?
I’m proud of my children and I’m always happy because I see them happy and healthy all the time. In the future, I have a plan to improve my standard of living by opening a business and working hard in the field to get many crops to sell and sustain my family.