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 on for Sharon Kaywanga‘s interview about the RCP Program.
Sharon is a single mother who was one of the first to join the RCP Program in July, 2017. Her son, Emmanuel Lulandala, is 4 1/2 years old, and attends the Ipalamwa kindergarten class. A perpetually enthusiastic person, she said as soon as she learned about RCP, she knew she wanted to be a part.
Sharon: Please tell us a little about your family and your life in Ipalamwa.
I live in my parents’ home with my son and my siblings. I was born and grew up in Ipalamwa, and I attended school to standard seven (7th grade). My parents are very supportive in everything. We are a farming family growing mainly corn and beans. Other crops we raise are vegetables and sweet potatoes. My parents also grow fruits like avocados and bananas for our meals. We always eat sweet potatoes, yams, cassava, ugali, rice few times, beans, vegetables and meat few times. My son loves everything – but especially rice. He also loves fruits like avocados, banana and sugarcane. Since we entered into the RCP Program, Emmanuel’s health is great because I have been learning what I have to offer for my child to grow better.
At the beginning, I was very frustrated when the father of my child did not accept responsibility for his son. But now I have accepted the situation since I can provide each and every thing my child would need. My mother named him Emmanuel which means God with us. I’m proud to be a mother, and I’m working hard in the fields so I can provide for Emmanuel. He loves sports and singing. He also loves going to school. I hope he will reach to a higher level of education and be a great person in the future. I’m happy that my parents also provide enough care to my child. I wish he’ll become a pilot one day and I will do my best to provide what is best for him to reach his dreams.
What aspects of the RCP Program have been most important to you?
I grow green pepper in my EarthBox to add vitamins to our bodies. I usually put them in food when I cook, and it makes the food tasteful and smell great. I’m happy to use them and I did not have any challenge, because everything looked great from the beginning. I have already harvested a couple of times this year.
I have also learned it is very important to wash hands because because the body will be protected from diseases. I use my hand-washing station after touching any dirty object, after using the bathroom, before and after eating, and during cooking. I have seen the importance of washing hands with soap and clean water because since we started practicing that, we are not experiencing diseases like diarrhea as before.
“The program has added value to my life because there were so many important things I didn’t know before. Now my life is easier with this information.”Sharon Kaywanga
After I attended the workshop on hand washing, I shared all the information with my family, and we all started to practice. Now I have taught my Emmanuel to use the hand-washing station, even though sometimes it is tough for him to use it alone. So I help him whenever he wants to use it. At the beginning it was hard to adopt, but we came to realize that it is very important, and now everyone is trying the best to use the hand-washing station.
What advice do you have for other parents who might be considering joining the RCP Program?
The program has added value to my life because there were so many important things I didn’t know before. Now my life is easier with this information. The services are great and the people are very professional. The services that we get from Ipalamwa General Clinic you can’t find anywhere else in the village. We are grateful that Global Volunteers thought of starting a clinic.
Also, I’m in the parents club and I love it so much. We learn different things to practice in life and sports. I love sports the most because I feel refreshed and active. From the program I have also learned about nutrition and hygiene. The workshops are great and home visits are so important because I usually learn something whenever a caregiver visits me. I’m very happy that we have this program here and want it to continue for the future.