Kibeho women making Catholic souvenirs for religious tourists.. The next time you visit Kibeho, the Holy Land in Nyaruguru, Southern Province try to buy souvenirs of Mother Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, since the decision could help a Rwandan child stay healthy and bouncing.
At Kibeho Health Center, 5minutes walk from the place where Mary appeared to school girls according to history, expectant mothers who come for medical checkups are not left to go back home even after getting their mandatory health check.
“When we receive a mother with a child at the center and notice that the child could be stunted, we ask them to stay for a free nutrition check,” explains Jeanine Ingabire the center Nutritionist.
The program is largely funded by the government under Rwanda Stunting Prevention and Reduction Project (SPRP)- a World Bank 5-year financed project (2018-2024) at a tune of $55 million.
It is expected to contribute to reduction of stunting rate among children under age five.
Normally this would mean one sitting back and relax since the expectant mothers under the SPRP program get Rwf 7, 000 per month and mother with children under five also get fortified foods, free of charge.
Meanwhile, in 2012 a group of 23 women whose children were diagnosed as stunted, formed a self-help Cooperative “Duharanire Imirire Myiza”.
They make catholic rosaries, medallions, crucifixes and sew school uniforms to generate sustainable income for the beneficiaries.
“We started with a contribution of Rwf200 but increased to Rwf500 after realizing it was not enough. We later on sought district support to raise capital of Rwf 2.2 million to start working, ” Ingabire said.
Today, the group has a working capital of Rwf 4 million and every member has been getting Rwf50, 000 per month.
Gloriose Niwonakunze, a mother of two, says that besides farming incomes, the group income helps to pay health insurance, animal based food nutrients like eggs and milk for her children.
Back to the government program that supports women. At Munini health center in Munini sector, Nyaruguru district 418 mothers decided to reinvest the funds into a sustainable project- “Kura Mwana” to feed children and mothers.
“We realised that this support money would be helpful if pooled so that we can buy 836 chicken for each family to afford eggs which were missing in children’s diets,” said Christine Kampire, a Nutritionist at Munini.
The Kura Mwana project has not been replicated in other sectors but each of the family has two chickens that lay eggs.
This engagement has helped reduce cases of stunting in Munini from 16% to 11% and reduction also reflected in Nyaruguru district figures from 41.5% to 32% since 2018.