By Aime Ndayisenga and Rachael Cox
Over the last 10 years, the government of Rwanda through the Ministry of health (MOH) has made remarkable gains in maternal and child health. The maternal mortality ratio has been reduced from one of the world’s highest in 2005 at 750 deaths per 100 000 live births down to 487 in 2010, and the under-5 mortality rate has been reduced by half during the same period.
To achieve these results, the national policy implemented by the government and development partners has focused on improving community-level health care through community health workers (CHWs).
One of these dedicated men is Faustin MANISHIMWE a father of 4 children. Speaking in Muhanga at a nutrition outreach of Community Health Workers on 20th January, he proudly emphasized on his invaluable role of providing various counselling services to his own community. “Being a father doesn’t prevent me from assuming responsibilities to educate my neighborhood who really suffers from bad practices in feeding their beloved ones,” said Faustin.
He added that seeing the evolving need of educating rural families, he decided to dedicate his life volunteering for the general welfare. “I think all brave men should contribute towards finding the solutions of their community needs,” added Faustin Habimana. Since 2008, the 41-year old Community Health Worker performs his duties with honesty and integrity. He has provided nutrition and health counselling messages to over 700 households since he started.
Having been a role model volunteer in Health and Nutrition counselling, Faustin received an opportunity to attend a nutrition training on the integration of Orange Fleshed Sweetpotatoes (OFSP) into family diets. He said that the training equipped him with strong knowledge on nutrition practices using the home grown crops like sweetpotatoes and legumes.
Mr Faustin’s last born child is also one of the target beneficiaries of the Feed the Future’s Rwanda Orange Fleshed Sweetpotato for Income and Nutrition Activity. With the support of free high-quality planting materials provided by the project, Faustin has managed to grow an OFSP garden not far from his home.
Though Faustin wasn’t at first convinced of the benefits of Vitamin A and OFSP for nutrition of women and children, but as he learned a lot during the 2 days training , he ended up convinced on the key role of the orange-fleshed varieties of sweetpotatoes, providing vital nutrients responsible for the development of Vitamin A.
With the additional skills acquired from the nutrition sessions provided by the Feed the Future Rwanda OFSP for Income and Nutrition activity implemented by the International Potato Center (CIP), Faustin pledges a double-effort in sensitizing the community to grow Orange-fleshed sweetpotato varieties for the welfare of their families.