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 Elestuta Mfikwa‘s interview about the RCP Program here.
Welcome to the RCP Program, Elestuta. Can you tell us a little about yourself and why you joined RCP?
I was born and grew up here in Makungu. I completed primary school through standard (grade) 7, and got married here in the village. My husband and I have two children; Karim and Fraiko. I decided to join RCP because the service of Global Volunteers is very good. I love RCP because it helps our children to reduce malnutrition because caregivers and volunteers teach us about health and nutrition. For example, my friend in Ipalamwa told me her children now are doing great – especially the younger one because of the good meals. I heard the RCP program supports pregnant women and children to improve their health, and to help with healthy deliveries. I heard about RCP workshops, which are so helpful to our daily lives. I can receive a hand-washing station and Rise Against Hunger (RAH) meals in the program. When my relative from Ipalamwa was sick, the Global Volunteers car helped her to go to Iringa town for medication. I think I will get an opportunity to practice new things and learn more how to solve problems facing children and moms, rather than rely on traditional ways of child rearing.
What are some of the cultural beliefs about pregnancy you grew up with?
We were taught always to follow all our cultural beliefs and values in the society. Taboos and faith are very strong. For example, a pregnant women cannot stand when drinking water or sit in front of the door, or it will result in complications during delivery. It is taboo after delivery not to eat green vegetables because it will create stomach upset. That’s just few examples of taboos. Our ancestors told people different ways. Nowadays, just a few of them maintain and keep these practices.
What do you hope to gain by participating in the RCP Program?
I want my life to change in all aspects. Most of all, I’m tired. I have to have healthy children. I want to learn more and to be an example to my family and other community members. I hope in the future, our village will have healthier children because of the RCP Program.