Early Childhood for a Bright Future (ECBF)
Centres in rural communities have been built, providing multi-purpose spaces and preschool classrooms. The teachers (ECBF caregivers) offer a sound, play based educational foundation, taught in part in the English language. There is a focus on the first “1,000 days” of life to find opportunities for interventions that can significantly impact a child’s physical and cognitive development.
Each HMP site operates a preschool for the children of the participants aged 3-6 years old. In addition the neighbouring children of that age are also invited to attend.
Since all of the preschools are registered with the local districts they are eligible to receive milk from the government twice a week. This is helping the children to access the nutrients they need for optimum health and development.
The fact that the mother leaders are participating as caregivers in the preschool has encouraged the preschool caregivers. Parent participation is a new concept in Rwanda but this involvement has many benefits for the education of the child.
Another component of ECBF is home based care. The model is to have mums with children between 1.5 and 3 yrs. come together. One mother looks after the children while the others are trained on how best to stimulate their children to achieve the best brain development.
On the parents day once a month the women either use the vegetables from the centre’s kitchen garden or bring their own contribution from their own kitchen garden and cook a meal for all of the children. The ingredients vary from one site to another and can be a combination of 5 or 6 of the following made into a mash: potatoes, carrots, cassava, spinach, sweet potato, beans, bananas, little fish and eggs. The parent initiated feeding program also makes sorghum porridge for the children in the preschool, often on a daily basis. All of these activities are helping to combat the rising numbers of malnourished children in rural Rwanda.