Hussein Kindamba is a 32-year-old father living in Chumo village, Tanzania. His 3-year-old son is named Halfani.
Hussein is a member of one of his village’s WORTH groups. WORTH is Pact’s award-winning micro-banking program that empowers people to lift themselves and each other out of poverty by bringing them together in groups of about 20 to save money, access credit and start small businesses.
Hussein joined WORTH through Pact’s Integrated Early Childhood Development Program, funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. The program, which spanned three years and ended this January, was implemented in 10 regions of Tanzania. It promoted the growth and development of children under age 5 in HIV- and AIDS-affected communities by increasing their access to essential, age-appropriate services and by improving caregivers’ capacity to provide consistent, responsive care, among other interventions.
In its three years, the program reached nearly 34,000 children and more than 70,000 caregivers, including Hussein and Halfani.
Last spring, a local volunteer taught members of Hussein's WORTH group about early childhood cognitive development.
This is the story, in Hussein's own words, of how the training improved his son’s life.
"Last month, we learned about how to make our children grow properly and how certain types of toys would not only make his body stronger, but help him to think, remember things, solve problems, make decisions and get along with others.
I started by making a small ball with plastic bags, and my son was so excited that before I had even finished he ran out to the neighbors and started calling to his friends and inviting them to come home to play with that ball with him.
It was funny watching him organize his friends, and they all came and sat beside me while I finished the ball. It seemed to surprise them, because they ask me a lot of questions about how I was making it, like why I was using plastic bags and banana fibers and not mud.
After I finished, I gave them the ball and they start playing. They were so happy, with each one running to kick the ball.
When I saw the children playing with that ball, I thought, my son needs more toys, and I start making him more things to play with. I made cars, houses, and even motorcycles, and all those things I made by using mud and plastic bags.
I could see that those toys were helping him develop. He became very fast at running and walking and involved more children in these games. These are the changes I noticed.
One day, I came home to find a lot of plastic bags around the house and saw that he had collected those to try [to] make balls for himself. I was so happy and proud of him, especially to know that he will develop his skills and abilities to think and learn better as he grows.”
Lead photo: Children play in Tanzania's Kagera region, where Pact implements its Integrated Early Childhood Development Program.