August 22, 2017

"I want to learn everything about parenting because nobody ever taught me"

Rose Fundi Kananda is 40 and has four children. Her youngest is three

Photo credit: BRAC

This week Theirworld is looking at the caregivers who help children under the age of five to grow and develop - today we talk to a mother and father from developing countries.

Every child in the world deserves to fulfil their potential. That means giving them quality care and nurturing in the crucial first few years of their life.

By the time a child reaches five years old, 90% of their brain has already developed. During that time, they need access to quality care, including the five vital areas of nutrition, health, learning, play and protection.

That’s why Theirworld’s #5for5 campaign is calling on leaders to help make early childhood development a top priority.

Caregivers - including parents and family - have a key role to play. In a special series this week, Theirworld talks to caregivers about the challenges and the joys of giving children the best start in life.

Rose Fundi Kananda, mother of four

I’m 40 years old. My children are 22, 18, nine and the last one is three. I am a single mother living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with three of my children while the nine-year-old lives with her father. 

The children usually stay at home with my younger sister while I go out looking for something to feed us. I am an entrepreneur, selling doughnuts from 5am to 12pm. 

I don’t pay for child support but I support my sister as she lives here with me along with her three children. She is a single mother like me.

The most challenging part about child care has been affording it. But I’m thankful for the school run by BRAC in Tanzania as my youngest daughter goes there, along with my sister's son, and they are learning many things. 

Maryam has learned to sing and count at the BRAC centre

Photo credit: BRAC

If it wasn’t for this school my child would have been at home. And if it wasn’t for my sister I would need to find someone to help me stay with Maryam which could cost me what it costs to feed my family for an entire week. 

I simply cannot afford to pay someone else and I cannot afford to take her to these private care centres. 

Maryam, who is three, attends the BRAC centre. She can now sing, count, jogs around the house and asks me to join her. She asks many questions too. 

Before going to school Maryam didn’t talk so much but now I have a hard time keeping her quiet. Maryam is very smart - she is my hope for the future. 

If I had financial assistance I would be able to provide so much more for my children. Once Maryam graduates from the BRAC school she is going to go to pre-primary. 

The public school is too far from where we live hence I’ll need to get her into private pre-primary until she is older and ready for primary school.

My pregnancy and birth went well. I went to the public hospital and delivered without any problems.  

I breastfed Maryam and all my children up to the age of 20 months. While attending the health clinic they did talk to us about the importance of breastfeeding. 

My culture and tradition allows me to breastfeed so I did not encounter any problems while breastfeeding. 

There is a public health facility not far away but most of the time they do not have the medication we need and we have to go to private pharmacies to get them. 

Many children have no access to toys or learning materials at home

Photo credit: BRAC

If we could have community healthcare workers come and visit us at the household level it would help us a lot.

I talk to Maryam all the time after I come home from my business.

I know play is important. I hear about it from the teacher and staff at the school and I try to play with Maryam all the time when I’m free. 

She only has two toys. We have been taught how to make play materials from everyday household items but I haven’t had time to make those yet. 

She doesn’t have any books. My sister bought a book for her son Zacharia recently, so he shares it with Maryam. 

I wish I had the resources to help take better care of my children. I want to learn everything about parenting because nobody ever taught me. 

Peter takes his child to Esther’s Day Care because of the clean environment and reliable staff

Photo credit: Esther's Day Care

Peter Mwangi, father of three

I am a pastor at Kenya Assemblies of God Church. My wife and I have three children. My youngest one is at day care - but my older two didn’t attend any day care as my wife was at home with them.

There is a difference when the child is brought up by their parents and brought up at a day care - but I am glad that our son is well taken care of. 

My wife is very busy and we thought it wise to bring him to this day care.

There are some day cares that scare you due to the environment that is not friendly and makes you prefer staying home with your child.

What appealed most to me was the cleanliness of Esther’s Day Care in Nairobi and how they look after the children wholeheartedly.

When it comes to learning, the day care is good as it enhances socialisation, development, interaction and even brain development as opposed to staying at home.

Children belong to both the father and mother and they both need to raise the child together.

Peter Mwangi

I think the reason why most men don’t look after children is because of tradition and culture, where children are left to their mothers and men feel it shameful to take care of children.

Children belong to both the father and mother and they both need to raise the child together.

The caregivers here do give training to the parents, although my wife is the one who has undergone the training because she is a casual worker.

Another problem of male parents is they do not interact well with their children and keep them on the sideline which is not good. 

You need your child to be your friend so that he can confide in you. The men are too macho and thus the children run to their mothers. Men need to be more involved in their children’s lives.

Seminars need to be held for fathers to be taught how best to raise children and be more involved.

Also in The Caregivers series

  • Act