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 Sharifa Kavindi’s interview about the RCP Program here.
Sharifa, because you were born and raised in Ipalamwa, we’re interested in your daily life, and how you’ve made changes to improve your family’s welfare since the RCP Program started.
Yes, my husband, Adani, and I both grew up here and attended primary school together. Since then, we’ve been farmers – growing beans, corn, sweet potatoes, cassava, and vegetables. Sometimes when we farm, we expect to be able to harvest a lot. And sometimes we get little or nothing, especially when it rains more than normal. So we have to find other ways of earning money, which is difficult. But we still survive. I would be happy if I got education on keeping chickens and could be provided with chickens because it would be helpful to be able to eat the eggs and sell any surplus to earn money. In the next few months, we plan to build another house and to plant more avocados for business.
Concerning food, my children love every food, but they especially love rice. We learned from the RCP workshops about the importance of nutrition. Currently, we drink tea and eat sweet potatoes, cassava, or yams for breakfast. We usually eat ugali, rice, beans, meat, and vegetables for dinner. We also have fruits every day like avocados and bananas. My two boys who are at the primary school, Jeremia and Junior, eat the Rise Against Hunger (RAH) meals provided by Global Volunteers at school twice a day. I started to see changes in them, like they now understand things much faster than before. When school was not in session due to the pandemic, they were sad because they missed the meals so much. They love those meals. I have an EarthBox that was just recently planted with cucumbers. It has not produced anything, yet, but it will soon. I’m so grateful that we have the container garden box to supplement our nutrition. Truly, the program is very helpful.
Also, I have learned a great deal about hygiene from the program. If this program hadn’t taught me all those things, I would not understand the importance of hygiene. Not only hand washing, but just general hygiene. Another important topic the program has taught me about is disease prevention, which has helped me so much.
“I hope the RCP Program will help me raise my children better so that they can realize their dreams.”– Sharifa Kavindi, RCP mom
How do you know that washing hands with soap and water often is important for preserving your health?
I have recognized that washing hands regularly is very important because since we started washing our hands at the hand-washing station, we have not suffered from stomach fever any longer. When I received the hand-washing station, I trained my children on how to use it. In fact, they love using it so much, they sometimes fill water into the jugs by themselves without being told, and I just put bleach in it. In that matter, washing hands with soap and water is important because it helps to kill bacteria that cause diseases and it helps us to maintain good health. We wash our hands after we have used the toilet, before and after cooking, and after all activities.
What specific changes have you made in the way you care for your children now that have improved their growth and development?
After I joined RCP, I was getting the fortified porridge, which was very helpful to me and my children. My child was gaining weight consistently each time he was weighed at the clinic. I had enough breast milk for my child, too. With my other children I had started them on solid food after a few weeks because I did not have enough breast milk. I didn’t know which foods to eat to make me and my baby healthy. The porridge was very helpful to my children and me. The growth of my first and second children (who were born before the RCP Program started) has been very different from that of my youngest, Fransis (who participated in RCP). Fransis, who is just three, understands things much better than his two older brothers did at the same age. He understand things very fast and he has grown healthier than the rest.
What can you tell us about the health clinic services you’ve received in Ipalamwa?
The Ipalamwa General Clinic (IGC) is very nice because we can get the services that our dispensaries can’t provide. You are treated according to the diseases that you are diagnosed with, but in other dispensaries they just give you medicine according to what you describe. They don’t diagnose anything. IGC has good family planning services because they first educate you about the advantages and disadvantages of every method before they give you services. They advise you which method to use according to what you have expressed, and this is not done at our local dispensaries at all.
“I love the workshops because I learn so many new things which are helpful. I also love the home visits because I always feel loved and valued when I’m visited.”– Sharifa Kavindi, RCP mom
You say you’re very enthusiastic about the RCP workshops. How do you integrate what you learn into your daily life?
I love the workshops because I learn so many new things which are helpful. I also love the home visits because I always feel loved and valued when I’m visited. A great thing I have learned is love. In the RCP Parents’ Club, we learned a lot about love, especially how to love our husbands and how to communicate. I have been practicing this and I see it working and we are now living in peace more than before. I am very happy about this and I am ready to learn more about different things. Truly, I used to have quarrels with my husband frequently but after I received the workshop, everything has changed. There are no more quarrels and I feel proud.
Sharifa, tell us more about your children and family. What makes you feel proud?
I love my family so much. When I look at my husband and my children, I feel great peace in my heart. I’m working hard now to make my children’s future brighter. I hope the RCP Program will also help me raise my children better so that they can realize their dreams. I am making efforts now to invest in their education so they can become who they want to be in the future.
I usually predict how my children will be in the future. For example, I hope my oldest son, Jeremia, will be a servant of God because he loves going to church. He is polite and loves to sing the gospel. My second son, Junior, likes mechanics and sports. I hope my children will be able to reach their dreams. I do not want them to end up with the education level that I have, but to reach higher – as far as they can go. That’s why we are working hard now to make sure we have enough to pay school tuition so that they can continue their education.