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Healthy meals at GIRIBUZIMA Early Childhood Development Center

Updated: 6 days ago

Early childhood centers (ECD) provide a safe environment for children from three to six years old to socialize, learn, and play. Parents can go to their work without worrying about young children left alone at home or having to bring them to the fields.

A large proportion of ECDs connected with AEE projects now offer feeding programs, ensuring that the children get a healthy morning meal, prepared by a roster of parents. This ensures that the children are well nourished and have energy for ECD activities and presents an opportunity for parents to learn and share  their knowledge about early childhood nutrition.

Below, we will hear from parents at the GIRUBUZIMA ECD center in Rwikiniro village, Gatsibo District. The GIRIBUZIMA ECD center is supported through an AEE Rwanda project partnering with BMZ.

NYIRANSANGIMANA Theodosie - Parent and cook

“When I start at 7 AM, the porridge is ready for the children to eat a few minutes past 8 AM.  We make it by mixing maize flour, sorghum flour, and soya flour with water and boil them together

“There are more than 40 children, but it doesn’t take me too much time to cook for them. I don’t do this every day, all of us as parents take turns to make it - other mothers prepare it when it is their turn.

“I enjoy doing this because we cook the porridge for our children, including mine. That is why I never hesitate to do it. Working with others, exchanging ideas and advice when there are things I might not know, those are the things that I like and get me motivated.”

UWIZEYIMANA Vestine, caregiver, parent, and cook

“We had an AEE community facilitator come to teach us how to prepare a healthy meal, that includes body-building foods, energy-giving foods, and protective foods.

“It is usually the parents who bring the food. Some parents may bring bananas. Others may bring cassava or potatoes, vegetables, or small fish. We then prepare everything and mix them in one pot to make a healthy meal. Every parent brings what they have. We try to make a balanced mix of all the food.

“The children always eat porridge in the morning. Even when lunch is delayed, they have at least taken that porridge because if they have to wait for lunch, some try to sneak out and go home.

“They usually eat lunch between 11 AM and noon, depending on when the parents have been able to bring the ingredients. But they never go beyond noon without eating.

“There are times when I can only afford cassava. But when I bring the cassava that I have, someone else brings the banana or small fish, another person brings potatoes. That way, my child is able to benefit from the diverse nutrients from the mix, and the other parents’ children benefit from the food that they didn’t have in their home. That’s what keeps our children in good health.”

MUKABIHITA Genevieve - Head of the ECD Committee.

"This school started in 2021, on the 5th of March. We were very happy and relieved when it started in our village. We used to be worried about our children whenever we returned from farming, we would find our children were not at home. They would all be wandering around the bushes and streets and would be very dirty. But now when they return from school, they all look bathed and clean. Those who go to school look very different from the ones who don't. I also think our children have become more confident. They used to be shy and afraid of meeting other people."

The ECD committee is formed from ECD students parents who are members of the project savings groups. Their role is is to ensure that the school is meeting the needs of the community and is running well. The committee is responsible for rostering parents to cook school meals.

"The school is not just for the saving groups members. Our nursery school does not exclude anyone. Every child, no matter who they are, can come here. We don't care whether their parents are part of our saving group.

"How the groups help the school ith is that we sit together to evaluate what we have achieved for the school. We also do follow-ups on children who might be malnourished and we assess what might be causing that. When the parent of that malnourished child is part of our group, it helps us to easily monitor the child's health. We can advise the parent directly on how to better feed their child to improve their condition. We ask them what they are lacking... When it is about money, we lend them from the group's savings so that they can buy the needed food such as vegetables and other ingredients to make a complete healthy diet for their child. The parent is then able to decide what they need and buy it. Sometimes they can use the money to make a small businesses such as selling potatoes. When they make some profits, they pay back the loan from the group."

Cooking the midday meal

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