Meet Rebecca, a young mother enrolled in Global Volunteers’ Reaching Children’s Potential demonstration program (RCP) in Ipalamwa, Tanzania. In the fall of 2017, 28-year-old Rebecca was excited to enter the program when she became pregnant with her third child. She hoped that joining RCP would provide access to new resources and knowledge to improve the health of her children. The RCP program focuses on preventing stunting by eliminating malnutrition, decreasing the incidence of infectious disease, and promoting education for pregnant mothers, infants and children under age 2, and their families.
Early in her pregnancy, Rebecca was able to begin attending workshops on key topics for maternal and infant care, install a hand-washing station to promote sanitation, receive healthcare from the new Ipalamwa Health Clinic, and enjoy weekly visits from her RCP caregiver, Deborah.
Over time, Rebecca’s confidence as a mother grew and she felt ready to deliver her son, Freddy, in July 2018. Freddy was born at 3.1kg (6.4 pounds) but now, at nine months, he weighs 9.1kg (20 pounds)! Rebecca believes that what she learned as a part of RCP and the support from her caregiver, Deborah, the staff and the volunteers, contributed to her son’s growth and good health. When comparing the growth trajectories of her children, Rebecca says that she can see a clear difference between Freddy, and her other two children.
When asked what aspect of the RCP program has benefited her the most, Rebecca said the nutritious porridge and workshops on controlling infectious diseases have been a great help. Rebecca found the information she learned in the workshops life changing: in particular, the importance of using the hand-washing station installed by the RCP program and boiling the family’s drinking and cooking water. She feels thankful for Deborah’s home visits, because the two women have built a relationship that allows Rebecca to feel free to ask questions and reinforce the learnings of the program.
As a result of her willingness to learn and embrace new ideas, Rebecca is seeing improvements in the health of her entire family, not just Freddy. She says that all family members have adopted healthy practices and “stomach disease in her house has become a history now.”
Rebecca’s journey through the program will follow the first 1,000 days of her baby’s life: that critical period in a child’s development where providing the essential nutrients and care for cognitive and physical growth of children is vital.
As Freddy continues to grow and thrive, Rebecca can look to the future. She hopes that Freddy will be “a good father, be knowledgeable and helpful in society.”
Rebecca also hopes that volunteers will continue to serve with the program to support these efforts and to continuously improve the kindergarten program that volunteers support, because, as she says, “Kindergarten is the foundation of our babies’ education.