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 on the first 1,000 days of life. Read Modesta Mlagile’s interview about the RCP Program here.
Modesta, we know you’ve made some important changes in your daily routine that have resulted in better health for you and you children. What are you doing differently now as a member of RCP?
Two things: Formerly I was not concerned about washing hands with soap and water regularly, but now I’m very sensitive in this matter because I have seen the advantages. In the past I just took it simple like if I wash my hands or if I don’t wash them, it’s okay. But now (after learning about hand hygiene through RCP), washing hands with soap and water is compulsory. Also, I exclusively breast-fed my youngest son, Simon, for six months. With my other children, I used to give them porridge within two or three months since they were really crying most of the time. But when I learned about the importance of nutrition during breastfeeding, I came to realize that they were not getting enough breast milk since I was not eating properly. So currently, I eat very well, and the Rise Against Hunger meals help a lot in producing enough milk for my baby, and he is getting enough.
Tell us more about the importance of hand washing to your family.
After an RCP workshop, I decided to teach my family about this right away while we were waiting for the hand-washing station to be installed at our home. I immediately put a bucket of water outside the toilet with a water jug and soap. When I was teaching my children, I told them the importance of washing hands and that there are always invisible bacteria on their hands so they need to wash their hands regularly. I emphasized the important times for them to wash their hands. I knew this was a good practice to adopt because on the first day of practicing proper hand washing, I felt the difference on my hands. They were clean all the time and gave me confidence to cook and prepare meals. And ever since we started doing this, we are no longer suffering from diseases, mostly coughing, runny nose, and stomach fever.
That’s wonderful success! What other changes have you made?
I eat the Rise Against Hunger (RAH) meals with a little bit of oil and salt to so I have enough breast milk to keep my child healthy and strong all the time. Simon will soon begin eating the meals because he just turned six months old. He’s very active and I always feel stronger after eating the meals. In our family, we mostly eat ugali, beans, vegetables, sardines, rice, yams, cassava, sweet potatoes, and bananas and avocados when they are available. My daughter Gloria, who is in kindergarten, receives RAH meals twice a day at school and has become very active compared to how she was before.
I also make sure my children are getting nutritious porridge every morning that I make from a mixture of corns, millet, rice, and peanuts. Also, I have been trying to provide three meals per day and have planted more vegetables at the farm so that we can have them every day.
Could you share a little about your background and your daily life?
I was born and raised in Idunda, but after my primary education my parents moved to Mkalanga (in the Ukwega Ward) and we’ve lived here ever since. My husband is not originally from here, either, but we met here in Mkalanga. I was only able to complete primary education. We have a business – a store for selling domestic items – and we farm corn, beans, vegetables, yams, sweet potatoes, cassava, and fruits, mainly bananas.
About my daily schedule, I usually wake up at 6:00 in the morning. I spend most of my time at the farm or at the shop — it just depends on the timetable for the day. I usually prepare three meals per day. The distance to fetch water from here is almost half an hour back and forth. When I get time to relax, I usually play with my children or sometimes read the Bible. If I could get access to other books, I would also read them.
Mkalanga is a very nice place because many essentials are found here. I would convince everyone to live in Mkalanga because it’s a nice place with a fertile land where many crops can be grown. I appreciate Mkalanga more than the village where I was born and raised.
“I knew this was a good practice to adopt because on the first day of practicing proper hand washing, I felt the difference on my hands. They were clean all the time and gave me confidence to cook and prepare meals.“– Modesta Mlagile, RCP mom
What was your experience in the birth of your last son, Simon?
I had the chance to deliver my baby at the Ipalamwa General Clinic and the services were great. The clinic helped me even when I was pregnant since I was suffering from stomach pain. But ever since I got treated there, my stomach was healed. And after delivery, I felt very strong as if I had not just delivered a baby. This shows that the staff there are professionals. When I compare that delivery with my deliveries in other places, I remember how tired I felt after giving birth. So the services there are incomparable.
“I had the chance to deliver my baby at the Ipalamwa General Clinic and the services were great. Even after delivery, I felt very strong as if I had not just delivered a baby. This shows that the staff there are professionals.”– Modesta Mlagile, RCP mom
Please tell us about your children, Modesta.
My children like to play and are all interested in sports. Their performance at school is improving. I usually help them make a timetable for their activities and I make sure that they have time to review what they have learned at school. I see Gloria changing every day and her understanding is much greater than before. I want to work hard to make sure my children reach their dreams. I want them to study very hard, get educated, and have good jobs of their own choice. I feel very happy when I see my children and I am a proud mama!