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.
After Sophia Lukonde, a single mother from the village of Ukwega, was referred to the Ipalamwa General Clinic seeking medical care for her baby, she joined RCP. Her interview was conducted by Global Volunteers’ Tanzanian staff, and her participation in RCP is made possible by the generosity and service of short-term volunteers and donors.
What would you like to share about your background, Sophia?
I was born in Ukwega village 23 years ago and completed my standard seven education (7th grade) at the Ukwega primary school. I’m single with two little kids, Noela Mgessa, who is six months old now, and Hashimu Shabani, who was born on 13/5/2016. I don’t want to get pregnant again now, so I am using a family planning method. I live with my grandmother and other siblings. We grow maize, beans and potatoes; most for consumption and the remainder we sell to earn money.
Why did you join the RCP Program?
I decided to join the RCP Program on May 22 this year because I wanted to learn. When I visited the Global Volunteers’ Ipalamwa General Clinic for medical issues, I was satisfied with the treatment and how they care about the children. I want to have more help, new knowledge and skills to help my child grow. Also, I want to work closely with RCP caregivers to get support on how to rise well my kids. I hope to have a happy life with my family.
How did you learn about the RCP Program?
I heard about the RCP Program last year when it was introduced at a public meeting in the Ukwega village. Also my younger sister, Mama Nancy, has already joined the program. She has shared with me about the home visits and the workshop topics she has learned. She has told me she finds the RCP Program very helpful.
“My younger sister has already joined the RCP program. She has shared with me about the home visits and the workshop topics she has learned. She has told me she finds the RCP Program very helpful.”– Sophia Lukonde, RCP Mom
What are your greatest concerns about your family’s health?
The health of my child Noela Lugessa concerns me the most. In the four months after I delivered, I noticed that she didn’t have eye contact or response to toys or anything that came close to her. I visited the closest dispensary, and they just gave me medicine for treatment for six days. But my child still had the problem after finishing the treatment, so the situation became the same. I decided to go to the Ipalamwa General Clinic (IGC) for treatment. The doctors there identified that my child has a problem of eye contact. They advised me to go to a special hospital for help. This made me feel so supported, and it was helpful to know where I was supposed to refer my child. It was so hard to know all this by myself. I hope to learn much more in RCP to help Noela develop normally. I expect she will continue to improve as I learn more.
“The IGC doctors advised me to go to a special hospital for help. This made me feel so supported, and it was helpful to know where I was supposed to refer my child. It was so hard to know all this by myself.”– Sophia Lukonde, RCP Mom
You can help Sophia and more than 500 other RCP mothers learn how to enable their children to reach their full potential. Support Global Volunteers’ RCP Program with a monthly or one-time gift now, and join a future service program to bring important resources to families in the Ukewega Ward.