New ECD Centre for children of Kamembe market vendors

Children eat porridge during breaktime at Kamembe ECD market based Centre. Joan Mbabazi.

THE GOVERNMENT and its partners last weekend launched an Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre in the border town of Kamembe in Rusizi District to enable children access support through holistic early learning, proper nutrition, hygiene and protection while their parents work.

The facility will benefit children whose mothers work at the market. They will drop them at the centre in the morning and pick them in the evening after they are done with their work.

Speaking at the inauguration of the centre, Dr Anita Asiimwe, the National Coordinator of the National Early Childhood Development Programme, said that even with the centre, parents must uphold their responsibilities by, for instance, continuing to feed them on balanced diet while at home.

Nathalie F. Hamoudi, the Deputy Representative Unicef one of the partners, said they are happy to provide working parents with a safe environment where their children are well taken care of and get all necessary support for proper growth.

“When parents are busy, kids need someone to look after them, that is why we want to ensure that they access all the benefits necessary for them because they are the future entrepreneurs, doctors, among other professions,” she notes.

Parents, especially mothers, welcomed the initiative, saying they will now go about their work at the market without having to worry about the safety of their children.

 “My sister died and left me with a young child that I used to leave at the neighborhood whenever I headed to work at the market, to my disappointment, sometimes the neighbours left the child at the veranda. At times, it even rained on him, and he stayed hungry the whole day until I came back in the evening,” said Immaculee Mukashema who works at the market.

Mukashema, who sells peas, said that sometimes she had to work with the child on her back, which was an inconvenience not just for the baby but also for her.

According to officials, about 130 children are registered for the ECD programme and in selecting the beneficiaries; social stratification categories were followed where those in categories one and two are the core beneficiaries.

Speaking at the event, Ephrem Kayumba the mayor of Rusizi District reminded parents to be mindful of family planning, saying that it always important that they have children they can be able to provide for, saying that this reduces the economic pressures in families.