Rwandan First Lady Jeannette Kagame has told parents to provide children at early age the best care possible so that they do not put their entire life at risk.
She was speaking Wednesday after laying a foundation stone for construction of an Early Childhood Development Center (ECD) in the remote Kivumu sector of Rutsiro district, western province. The centre arises from a partnership between Imbuto and Tamari Foundation.
Tamari Foundation offers a catalyst for change and keys to knowledge through a variety of educational initiatives and projects focusing on human well-being within developing nations.
The First Lady referred to scientific findings that show eighty per cent (80%) of human brain development is attained within the first three years of existence and the remaining 20 per cent, at 6 years of age.
In other words, failing to provide adequate nutrition for child at early age is putting at risk his brain capacity and obviously, his education and growth.
“It’s a very sensitive stage of growth; when a child lacks adequate care at this period, it is quite cumbersome to recover afterwards,” said Mrs Kagame.
“Yet when the child is given required care, he gets a strong foundation for the rest of his life.”
She said it is a strong foundation for child intelligence and it creates child confidence while also nurturing good conduct and a sense of responsibility, all covered by a calm attitude.
Need to have children with such qualities and aptitudes triggered design of a home for children development, the ECD centers by Imbuto Foundation, the organization chaired and founded by the First Lady.
The implementation of ECD program largely focuses on child development while providing an indispensable package to expectant mothers and children up to six years, and their caregivers.
The ECD center setup is in three ways; it can be like the one whose construction the First Lady launched this Wednesday in Rutsiro, or a home visit by caregivers. In other instances, it is a home where caregivers choose to meet children and parents.
In ECD Centers, care givers help children to, among others, discover their talents at early age, to be hygienically smart, to take care of the people and general environment around them.
Games and a variety of entertainments they learn intend to nurture togetherness and conviviality spirit, which also, strengthens their brain.
The First Lady said that taking good care of an expectant mother and child is not burdensome for the Rwandan community; it is rather a cultural practice the society should revisit.
“You all are aware that in our culture, expectant mothers were respected and protected; a culture that also had to benefit the baby. Before marriage it was important to determine whether partners do not have close relationship to avoid congenital disorder of their descendants,” she said.
The Rwandan society should also reintroduce the culture of providing a helping hand to an expectant mother, whereby community provided someone to assist her through her pregnancy and first months that follow her giving birth.
The logic behind, said the First Lady, was to assure that the mother does not get involved into hard manual work that would lead to a miscarriage or any other health threat.
She reminded mothers that they should take their time to breastfeed their children and avoid an early pregnancy to allow the baby to grow without hindrance.
“We are drawing all such values from our culture and this is just a reminder to you, so that you integrate them very well,” said the First Lady.
To get the ECD program implemented optimally, parents and the community at large are required to own it, without waiting for any external support.
Currently, 10 ECD centers were built in 10 districts benefiting 6,067 children and 6,034 parents. The wish of the First Lady is to have at least one ECD center built in each of the 30 districts of the country.