Anne Marie Uzamukunda was under intense pressure of her husband until 2017 when the Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre was built in his Nyarugunga village of Kicukiro district.
“I did not have money to take my child to school, nor did I have a job to provide him with all basic needs. I was condemned to stay at home,” Uzamukunda told Kigali Today, our sister, Kinyarwanda website.
After the ECD was constructed in her area, Uzamukunda took the child to the baby sitters at the centre and went to a nearby tailoring school.
After six months, Uzamukunda had mastered tailoring, and, with the support of her husband, she acquired a tailoring machine and started small.
With time, Uzamukunda built a name and created a huge market around him.
Today, the mother of three is able to raise Rwf 195,000 per term to her child at university every term. On top of that, she raises rwf 15,000 per month for the child in primary school and 4,500 for the youngest in ECD.
To supplement efforts of the husband to feed the family, Uzamukunda contributes rwf 40,000 every month.
“My husband now respects me because he has realized that I stand for something,” Uzamukunda said.
Massion Jean de Dieu, Director of Nyarugunga ECD told Kigali Today that the centre takes care of 616 children including 120 who study and get nutritious food, medication and vaccination at the centre.
Of this total number also, 168 children are taken care of from their families while 468 children get the services from home.
Parents of these children get a monthly training on culinary so that they can help children to have a balanced diet in a country where stunting is above 35%.
From Rubavu district – Western Province where mothers live their children to an ECD at the border as they go to do trade in Goma, to Rulindo’s ECD where mothers live children to ECDs to go for tea harvesting and in Nyarugunga where mothers have where to live children to go for businesses, women laud government efforts to ensure gender equality.
ECDs are helping mothers who were in housewives in the past, to explore their business potentials and to contribute to households’ development because they have safe hands where to leave their children – ECDs.
Looking after children at the centre include as well, feeding them with balanced diet, which is the best way to fight malnutrition and stunting.
According to Jean Paul Nyandwi from National Early Childhood Development Program (NECDP), this program intends to integrate all the government efforts in providing decent life to children from conception to six years of age.
Under this program, the mother and the child get vaccination, medication, hygienic materials and prepare the child to starting primary school. This intends to ensure decent growth be it mentally, physically and intellectually.
According to the design, chilren aged from 3 to six years, are put in the ECDs which can either be in a home of a neighbor of the children, a separate centre that is built by government in villages or at a working station or a model ECD centre.
The government encourages people who have that capacity to create ECD centres in their homes.
There are in Rwanda 11,207 ECDs including 336,210 children. Those represent 25% of children in that category that qualifies for the centre countrywide.
According to Nyandwi, thre is in every cell of Rwanda, an ECD centre on average.