Every month, Global Volunteers’ caregivers in the Ukwega Ward of Tanzania meet with families who wish to participate in the Reaching Children’s Potential (RCP) Demonstration Program. The goal of RCP is to eliminate childhood stunting in all five of the villages served: Ipalamwa, Makalanga, Lulindi, Ukwega and Makungu. Specifically, families obtain the nutrition, health care, knowledge, technology, and encouragement needed to combat stunting, and to ensure their children can realize their full potential. Stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psycho-social stimulation. Children are defined as stunted if their height-for-age is more than two standard deviations below the World Health Organization’s Child Growth Standards median. Global Volunteers’ RCP Program is a child-focused, parent-driven, family-centered, and community-led comprehensive effort beginning with pregnancy and continuing through the 18th birthday, focusing on the first 1,000 days of life.
Atanasia Chuma’s third baby is due July 14. She said it was the stories of healthy babies, children with less diarrhea, and earlier trauma with a severely sick son that led her to join the RCP program in May, 2020. Now, she looks ahead to more knowledge, an easier delivery, and “a happy family.”
We’re interested in knowing a little bit about you, Atanasia. What can you share about your life?
I was born in Morogoro and moved to Ukwega after getting married. Right now I live with my husband Myumbo in the Ukwega village. I decided to join the RCP program on May 25 of this year, when I was on the seventh month of my pregnancy. I‘m 26 years old, and I have two other children; my first child, Raymond Myumbo, was born on November 26, 2011. He is now nine years old. My second child, Lucas Myumbo, was born on February 27, 2016. He is now four years old. We are farmers.
We grow maize in the field, beans, cassava, and we also keep livestock. I have one pig. We eat what we grow and sell the excess.
Why did you join RCP program?
I joined the RCP program because I did not want my expected child in the womb to be stunted, like my second child. I’ve suffered a lot due to lack of awareness. For instance, I fed my second child with other food when he has four months. He got constipation, he had trouble gaining weight, and his total body was swollen. He did not want to eat well, which led him to be hospitalized at Ikonda Hospital in Iringa for one month due to malnutrition. I know for sure I will get a chance to learn more about child growth and development with the help of the RCP Program.
“I joined the RCP program because I did not want my expected child in the womb to be stunted, like my second child. I suffered a lot due to lack of awareness.”– Atanasia Chuma, RCP Mom
What have you heard about the RCP program?
I heard about the RCP Program from my fellow moms who are in the program. I also heard about Global Volunteers’ Ipalamwa General Clinic (IGC), which is free and offers quality service for the RCP families, especially delivering babies. I also learned about the RCP workshops from my friends who are in the program: Mama Zanitha, Mama Prince, Mama Jane and Sophia Lukonde. I saw other families having hand-washing stations, which helped them to wash their hands. Even my children admire these so much that they go there to practice how to wash their hands.
I have a friend in Ipalamwa who joined the RCP program. She explained to me the importance of the program and how RCP helped them so much to improve her children’s conditions due to Raise Against Hunger meals and home visits from caregivers and volunteers. She learned so much from those home visits. I knew I had to do the same.
What are your greatest health concerns?
I did not realize that symptoms like abdominal pain, and back pain could be serious problems. After joining the RCP Program, I shared this with RCP Caregiver Asha Ngweta. She advised me to go to IGC for pre-natal care. I was so impressed on my second day after joining RCP Program, May 26. The Global Volunteers driver came to pick up the pregnant women to attend pre-natal care sessions at IGC.
After that visit, I came to realize that I have a healthy pregnancy but I have a urinary track infection. I was so happy to get medication and intensive care at my pre-natal visit. I did not expect a clinic in a rural area to provide services like ultrasound. Now I feel good and have confidence that I will have a safe delivery after learning that there is a room for me to stay at the Ipalamwa guest house when I am ready for delivery. I hope to learn more and have a healthy family!
“I was so happy to get medication and intensive care at my pre-natal visit. I did not expect a clinic in a rural area to provide services like ultrasound. Now I feel good and have confidence that I will have a safe delivery after being explained that there is a room for me to stay at the Ipalamwa guest house when I am ready for delivery.”– Atanasia Chuma, RCP Mom