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 about a mother and daughter who participate in the RCP Program to protect the health of four-year-old Yosia.
Tuhuvilage Nyamog is a grandmother, who at age 70-plus (she isn’t sure what year she was born) is hoping that life will get easier for her one of these years. In the meantime, however, she is her family’s primary caregiver, and as such, leaves her home daily at 6 a.m. with her husband and daughter to farm corn and beans outside the village until the afternoon. The family, which also includes Tuhuvilage’s four-year-old grandson, Yosia, survive primarily on the food they grow and the bit of government support they receive, which they spend to hire farm workers to help with planting. So Tuhuvilage knew that when her daughter Rukia became pregnant with Yosia, the family would need additional support for the baby.
Life has also been difficult for Rukia. Born in Ipalamwa with a severe mental condition, she couldn’t get the help she needed from the teacher at the over-crowded village primary school. So, Rukia never received an education, and has lived a simple, sheltered, and impoverished life for over three decades. A year after her son was born, her mother learned of the new Global Volunteers’ RCP Program that launched in their village. Since then, Tuhuvilage has been a surrogate for her daughter at RCP workshops – eagerly practicing every new skill she’s learned – and teaching Rukia how to be the best mother she can be to Yosia. Tuhuvilage explains how her participation in the RCP Program has improved her family’s health:
Tuhuvilage, what new information and practices have been most important to your family?
I love both the workshops and the home visits because I have been learning from them a lot of (ways to) reduce our hardship. I have trained everyone to use the hand-washing station as many times as they can, but I usually help Yosia to wash his hands whenever he needs to do so. Every since we began this practice, we have not been experiencing regular diseases, mostly diarrhea. The hand-washing stations and education about washing hands with soap and water helps to keep us healthy.
I’m so grateful that we can receive great services for free at the clinic, and that I could help Rukia get a family planning method, which is an implant, so she won’t get pregnant again.
When I joined the RCP Program, both Rukia and Yosia received fortified porridge, which was very helpful to keep Rukia’s breast milk full. The baby looked healthy, especially in his weight. Because of the hardship we had in the house, I couldn’t provide everything for him to grow well, so his health declined a bit. But I explained this to my RCP caregiver and we started to receive the Rise Against Hunger meals again to help Yosia’s health. The meals were very helpful because his weight increased and we stopped taking the meals in May. He doesn’t attend school yet, but when he does, he’ll receive the meals again at school.
We aren’t able to access many foods because my husband and I are old and we are no longer able to farm a lot. So when I come home from working in the field, I usually just do some other domestic activities. It is very rare for us to get other foods. Yosia loves ugali so much, but he used to love the meals from the RCP program even more. When they are in season, we eat sweet potatoes, vegetables, and avocados. I often fetch water for our home. It’s a 15-minute walk to get water. When I get time to relax, I just use it to sleep.
“I’m trying my best and I hope the program will be helpful to support my dreams for Yosia. I love Yosia so much because he does not have any other support than me.”– Tuhuvilage Nyamoga, RCP participant
What are your hopes and dreams for your grandson?
Yosia’s health is good now. He loves sports and playing with his friends. I hope he is able to get an education and become a doctor or a soldier, and not end up like his mom, though I still don’t know how will he get there because of our situation financially. But I’m trying my best and I hope the program will be helpful to support my dreams for Yosia. I love Yosia so much because he does not have any other support than me. I’m doing my best all the time to make him happy.