Can a day care facility for children aged 6 months to three years in a low income urban area help those children stay well nourished and meeting developmental milestones?
Tushinde works in Mathare Valley, Nairobi, Kenya. We found that levels of malnutrition in children aged six months to three years were higher than the general population of the same area. The same finding had also been made by the main clinic in the area. Tushinde found that this was partly due to mothers leaving their babies at home, unattended, often for up to ten hours at a time whilst they looked for casual work to feed their children.
We teamed up with a local community centre to pilot the provision of a safe, stimulating day care environment with trained staff, where appropriate and nutritious food was served.
Our work inspires us as we see the transformation of underweight and withdrawn babies into healthy and animated toddlers.
Mothers reported leaving babies alone as no-one would give them work if they took their child with them.
The key learnings are that mothers are happy to pay (about $0.30) if food is provided; whilst they all support the activities and routines for the children, only a very few report this as worth paying for.
The questions the venture raises are; 1. Are we reaching the babies who need our service the most? 2. Are we seeing better levels of nutrition and cognitive devleopment in our children compared to others in the community? 3. Can we replicate our day care facility in other parts of Mathare Valley and possibly further afield?