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 Tumpokee Kikoti’s interview about the RCP Program here.
Tell us, Tumpokee, a bit about where you grew up, where you went to school, and how you and your husband work together to support the family.
My husband and I were both born and grew up here in Ipalamwa. My education level is the primary school education. My husband and I support each other in everything.
How have the RCP workshops informed you on sanitation and disease prevention?
I got the handwashing station when I was still in my parents’ house, so I used to use it with my mother and siblings. When I got married, I moved to my husband’s house and I took the handwashing station with me. Since we started using the handwashing station, my family has never suffered from diarrhea. I’m also grateful that my child has never gotten sick from diarrhea since the day she was born. The handwashing station has been very helpful to keep us healthy. Before having the handwashing station and before we received education on handwashing, we used to suffer a lot from diseases – mostly the stomach flu. But since then we are no longer suffering. Ever since and up until now, my family has been healthy and happy.
“Since we started using the handwashing station, my family has never suffered from diarrhea. I’m also grateful that my child has never gotten sick from diarrhea since the day she was born. The handwashing station has been very helpful to keep us healthy.”– Tumpokee Kikoti, RCP Mom
What have you learned about nutrition through the RCP Program?
The fortified porridge and Rise Against Hunger meals have been very helpful to my child. She grew up having the porridge and then later received Rise Against Hunger meals, both of which helped her to be very healthy and stronger. Her weight never went down, something which I’m proud of as a mom. The same thing happened with me since I was also eating the meals and porridge. I became stronger than before and I had enough breast milk to breastfeed my child. I breastfed her exclusively for six months. Currently, I make a porridge with a mixture of corn, rice, millet, peanuts, and sardines. She gets that porridge twice per day. She also eats other foods that we eat such as ugali, rice, meat, fish, sardines, vegetables, beans, cassava, potatoes, yams, and cooked bananas. She also eats fruits like avocados and bananas. She always loved the Rise Against Hunger meals. Rice is her favorite food now.
What else have you learned in the RCP Program. Is your life different now?
My life has been very different ever since I became a part of the program. There are a lot of things that I have learned from the program. I delivered my child as soon as the program was introduced in our village so I had the advantage of knowing a lot of things on how to raise a child since my child was younger. I couldn’t have raised my child to this extent without any sickness if the program wasn’t here. One of the things I appreciate is the workshop on handwashing and the handwashing station. It has been very helpful and beneficial for my family. Also, the co-ops are so beneficial because we are gaining so many skills from them and it is an advantage even for the next future generation, I believe. I love everything about the program, but mostly the clinic where we are getting services for free. We are so grateful for this because even if someone doesn’t have money, they can receive healthcare.
I’m very interested in the workshops because I always gain something from them. I love when I receive home visits, too, because we can share different ideas and I can easily express my challenges and get help.
“I’m very interested in the workshops because I always gain something from them. I love when I receive home visits, too, because we can share different ideas and I can easily express my challenges and get help.”– Tumpokee Kikoti, RCP Mom
What can you tell us about the health clinic services you’ve received in Ipalamwa?
The clinic is effective, efficient, and has high technology. In our dispensaries in the village, you cannot receive care unless you have a small exercise book to write the diagnosis in. I wondered about this when I went to the Ipalamwa General Clinic for the first time. I found out that they do not need the books to write something in, and I was amazed! Everything runs very smoothly. There is professional staff and they use good language with everyone. All in all, the fact that we are treated for free has served the lives of many because people can get sick and just stay at home because they do not have funds to pay at the pharmacy or when they go to the hospital. But now, that is not something that someone should be thinking about. I’m truly grateful to Global Volunteers.
“All in all, the fact that we are treated for free has served the lives of many because people can get sick and just stay at home because they do not have funds to pay at the pharmacy or when they go to the hospital. But now, that is not something that someone should be thinking about.”– Tumpokee Kikoti, RCP mom
Can you tell us a bit about Nitress and her personality? What hopes do you have for her future?
Nitress likes playing with her friends outside and she loves singing. My wish is to help her reach her dreams in the future. I’m working hard to make sure we provide everything necessary for her education. I’m grateful to the program because it’s been very helpful to my child to gain understanding very fast and I didn’t expect it. I hope the program will still be helpful more and more through helping us parents with the education necessary for helping our children.
What are your family’s biggest challenges or struggles? How do you try to address them?
The most challenging thing for us farmers is the weather. Sometimes it is not friendly and leads us to get few crops and it becomes difficult to sell. But we always fight to make sure everything works better in our home.
What are you most proud of in your family? What do you hope for in the future?
I’m proud to be a mom and I’m very happy to see my family healthy and at peace. In few years to come, we are planning to decorate our house and build another one.