Reflections on Fatherhood

POST BY KATEMBO FAUSTIN // PUBLISHED JUNE 2017

This Father’s Day, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, Katembo Faustin, writes about fatherhood, his personal experience as a father, how GHI engages fathers, and more!

 Me and my son Rico

Me and my son Rico

Parenthood is such an amazing experience! As a young parent with two boys (Rico, the first born [3.5 years] and Naldo, the second born [1 and a half months]), I have learned and expect to continue to learn a lot about raising children. It has never been an individual experience but a shared responsibility with my wife. Before I was a parent, I anticipated that being a father would imply playing specific parenting roles, but I didn’t know exactly how. Even now, with two children, I am still finding out that there are many incredible lessons to learn.

In my opinion, being a father means recognizing paternity implications. You feel like your children’s future lies in your hands and therefore you have to do whatever it takes to shape it. You know that your children did not choose to be your sons/daughters but you chose to be their father. Being a father tells me that I have obligations and responsibilities and my child has rights. Being a father fills me with love for my children and this is what inspires me to do what I do. Being a father takes me back to what my parents went through to make me what I am today and when I follow in their footsteps, I feel satisfied. At the same time, it makes me learn from what my parents could have done differently and it becomes an important opportunity to reflect on what would be best for my children.

There are moments when you feel anxious and frustrated when you realize that you are not responding to your children’s needs and aspirations, but you still have motivation to press on, because your obligations as a parent are a privilege and that privilege can’t be delegated. The motivated commitment you have pushes you forward and the joy and happiness you get from these efforts are a deserved reward.

As children grow up, take their first steps, and reach the preschooler stage – when they never cease to ask endless questions, tell stories, and impress you with their learning and discoveries, you will constantly be entertained. You feel like these are your favorite moments and you know that pride you gain from this is because of the role you play in your children’s everyday life.

At GHI we partner with families with malnourished children. Personally I am privileged to be working with the Monitoring and Evaluation team, where I have the chance to gain a more in-depth look at what is at stake. On day-to-day basis I glimpse the many different elements that come into play when we deal with malnutrition. The health and agriculture curricula and inputs are designed in a way that the families enrolled in GHI program have a comprehensive package that enables them to internalize knowledge and adopt practices that lead to behavior change and thus contribute to alleviating malnutrition amongst children. Apart from the families we serve, there is another opportunity for people who don’t have [the] chance to be in the field working directly with families; this is our daily “community lunch” where staff get together with our local community at the farm table at the office and share balanced meals. Mothers who come to work on the farm bring their children and share a meal with the entire office staff.

From these experiences, I have learned a lot of things pertaining to healthy life that I wouldn’t otherwise have had a chance to learn. Of course I could learn some things through research to help improve my families' dietary lifestyle, but this would be so little compared to what I have actually learned, because this is my everyday life. It has really aroused a paradigm shift! I’ve shared all of these stories and practices with my wife and she really enjoys learning them too!

 My wife and two boys.

My wife and two boys.

Sometimes Rico, our first born, is reluctant to eat vegetables and legumes but since he has grown and participates in our conversations, we tell him why we want him to eat these types foods and what it means in terms of health. Not only has this been helpful to my own family, but I also share it with neighbors and they are really appreciative.

GHI’s model has been incredibly successful over the years, as the statistics prove. This, however, has been a shared effort of GHI and the mothers we work with. Thus far, the implication of the fathers hasn’t been that big. We are working with vulnerable families where the educational levels may [be] fairly low. Many fathers are very adamant on maintaining old fashioned cultural beliefs that make them less open to cooperate with their wives for the benefit of their children. GHI believes that there would be much more success in our approach if we could get men to join and participate actively and support mothers in the program. This is where GHI realized a compelling need to engage men. We have launched a number of initiatives to sensitize and motivate men, such as grouping them in small groups and providing them with the health education we teach in our program. We often see men accompanying mothers at program graduation ceremonies, but the numbers are still quite small. We are still investigating other ways of getting their buy-in and support to share all the parenting responsibilities and cooperate in raising their children.

GHI has recently initiated a “father’s day” campaign where fathers were invited to discuss a number of relevant health topics. The enthusiasm that they displayed proves that this will help break the status quo and bring them on board as we move forward to end childhood malnutrition. From my experience, I strongly believe that these kinds of initiatives will help men involve their wives in all decision-making processes, and not only support their wives in parenting but fulfill duties that they should be accountable for.

It is in the Rwandan government policies to sensitize men to recognize the necessity of collaborating and acting as co-decision makers in the household. This will help to build an effective partnership with concerned institutions. It makes me optimistic that the positive change we need to see happen in the nutrition sphere becomes a reality.

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Kuri uyu munsi mukuru w’abagabo, umuyobozi mukuru mu itsinda rishinzwe  imikorere n’imigenzurire mu murima w’ubuzima, Katembo Faustin yanditse byinshi kubijyanye [fatherhood], avuga kubuzima bwe nk’umubyeyi wumugabo, uburyo GHI yita kubagabo, ndetse nibindi byinshi.

Kubaho nk’umubyeyi n’ubuzima bushimishije cyane! Nk’umugabo ukiri muto ufite abana babahungu babibiri (Rico, [umwana w’imfura ufite imyaka 3 n’igice] hamwe na Naldo, [umwana wakabiri ufite umwaka 1 n’igice] nize byinshi kandi ndacyakomeje kwiga byinshi birenzeho muguteza imbere abana banjye. Ntabwo ndi njyenyine muri ubu bizima kuko mfatanyije inshingano zo kwita kubana bacu hamwe na madamu wanjye. Mbere yuko nshinga urugo, natekerezaga ko kuba papa w’abana bisaba kwubahiriza inshingano runaka ariko ntabwo nar’inzi mubyukuri uburyo izo nshingano zikorwa. Nanubu mfite abana babiri, ndacyabona hari byinshi nkwiye kwiga.

Uko mbitekereza, kuba umupapa bisobanuye kuzirikana inshingano zawe nk’umubyeyi w’umugabo. Ugomba kumva ko ahazaza h’abana bawe hari mu biganza byawe ari nayo mpamvu ugomba gukora icyo ari cyose kizibafasha mugihe cy’ejo habo hazaza. Urabizi neza ko abana bawe ataribo bahisemo kuba abahungu bawe cyangwa abakobwa bawe, ariko niwowe wahise mo kubabera papa. Kuba umu papa binyibutsa ko mfite inshingano n’abana banjye bakagira uburenganzira. Kuba umu papa binyuzuza mo urukundo rw’abana banjye kandi ninabyo binyongerera imbaraga mubyo nkora ubu. Kuba umubyeyi w’umupapa binsubiza inyuma mubuzima bw’ababyeyi banjye ibyo baciyemo kugirango mbe uwo ndiwe uyu munsi, kandi uko ngenda ndushaho kugera ikirenge mucyabo, ndushaho gutera imbere. Nanone, bituma nigira kubyo ababyeyi banjye bakagombye kuba barakoze, ibyo bigatuma ngira amahirwe yo gushaka icyabera cyiza abana banjye.

Har’igihe ujy’uhangayika ugacik’intege bitewe n’uko wamenyeko utarimo guha abana bawe ibyo bakeneye, ariko haracyar’ amahirwe nanone kuko inshingano zawe nk’umubyeyi m’urugo ni ingenzi kuko udashobora kubwira mugenzi wawe ngo azigukorere. Ugushaka kwawe niko kugusunika kukwerekeza imbere kandi ibihembo n’ukwishima n’ umunezero.

Uko abana bagenda bakura, batangira gutera udutambwe, kugeza igihe bitegura kujya kwishuri- Iyo badahagaritse kukubaza ibibazo bidashira, kugucira imigani, cyangwase kugushimisha mubyo bagenda bavumbura mumyigire yabo, ntabwo ushobora kwishima. Nawe wumva wishimiye ibihe ugirana nabo kandi ibi byose ni ibihembo byuko wubahirije inshingano wagombaga gukora m’ubuzima bw’abana bawe.

Mu murima w’ ubuzima, dukorana n’imiryango ifite ikibazo cy’ imirire mibi. Kubwanjye nishimiye gukorana n’ itsinda rishinzwe imikorere n’ubugenzuzi, aho nshobora kuba mfite amahirwe yo kumenya kuburyo bwimbitse ibiromo kuba. Umunsi ku munsi, ngenda mbona ibintu byinshi bigenda biza nk’ amashusho iyo turi kwiga kukibazo cy’ imirire mibi. Imfasha nyigisho zo mu buhinzi no mu buzima ziba ziteguwe kuburyo imiryango ikorana n’umurima wubuzima ishobora kungukiramo impamba ihagije ishobora kubafasha gushira mubikorwa ubumenyi bungukukiyemo no guhindura imyitwarire biganisha kukurandura ikibazo cy’ imirire mibi mu bana babo. Usibye imiryango dukorana nayo, har’ andi mahirwe agenewe abandi bantu batabonye amahirwe yo kuba bashirwa muri porogaramu yacu; arugero “Ifunguro rya saa sita” dufatira hamwe nabaturage aho usanga abakozi bose b’umurima w’ ubuzima bahurira hamwe n’abaturage basanzwe kumeza y’umurima aho ibiro biri bagasangira ifunguro rigizwe nindyo yuzuye. Ababyeyi babadamu bakora mu murima bazana abana babo ahar’ umurima wacu bagasangirira hamwe n’abakozi b’umurima w’ubuzima bose.

Ufashe ibyo byose, nigiye mo byinshi bishamikiye kubuzima bwiza ntigeze ngira amahirwe yo kwiga. Nibyo! Nashoboboraga kwiga ibintu byinshi nifashishije ubushakashatsi kugirango mpindure imirire m’urugo rwanjye biganisha k’ubuzima bwiza, ariko byaba ari bike kubyo ubu maze kumenya kuberako ubu nibwo buzima bwanjye bwa buri munsi. Byazamuye umuryango wanjye! Nasangije madamu wanjye aya makuru yose nimigenzereze yose kandi nawe yishimiye kubyiga.

Hari igihe Rico, umwana wacu wambere yanga kurya imboga n’imbuto ariko kuko yakuriye kandi yitabiraga ibiganiro by’umuryango, tumubwira impamvu agomba kubirya ndetse nicyo bisobanuye kubuzima bwe buzira umuze. Ntabwo ibi byafashije umuryango wanjye wonyine gusa, ahubwo nabisangije n’ abaturanyi banjye kandi nabo barabyishimiye.

Nkuko imibare ibigaragaza, mu myaka ishize hagaragaye kuza muka kuburyo budasanzwe mu mimikorere y’umurima wubuzima. Ariko ibi nanone, byagezweho kubufatanye bw’abakozi b’umurima w’ubuzima n’ababyeyi babadamu dukorana. Kugez’ubu ubwitabire bw’abagabo buracyari hasi. Dukorana n’imiryango wavugako batishoboye kandi nanone wavugako urwego rw’uburezi (amashuri) bushobora kuba buri hasi. Har’ abagabo benshi bagitsimbaraye kumyizere yakera ndetse nagakondo zabo ari nabyo bituma bumva badashaka gukorana n’abagore babo kunyungu z’abana babo. Umurima w’ubuzima wizerako ibintu byagenda neza ar’uko hakomeje gushishikariza abagabo kwitabira no gufasha abagore babo muri porogaramu yacu. Aha niho umurima w’ ubuzima wabonyeko ari byiza gushishikariza abagabo kwitabira porogaramu yacu. Twatangije gahunda nyinshi zigamije gushishikariza abagabo kwitabira harimo kubashyira hamwe mu mutsinda bagahabwa amasomo ajyanye n’ ubuzima dusanzwe dutanga mu mahugurwa yacu. Dukunda kubona abagabo baherekeje abagore babo mu minsi mikuru isoza amahugurwa cyangwa se “Garaduasiyo” ariko biragaragara ko umubare ukiri muto cyane. Turacyashakisha uburyo bwose bushoboka twabafasha tuganira ku nshingano zababyeyi, dukorana nabo mu kuzamura abana babo.

Ubu umurima w’ubuzima [GHI] watangije igikorwa cyitwa “Father’s Day” cyangwase Umunsi mukuru wabagabo aho abagabo batumiwe mubiganiro byinshi by’ingenzi k’ubuzima. Umuhati bagaragaza werekana ko uzadufasha kugabanya imyumvire yari isanzwe maze tukabinjiza muri gahunda yacu buri uko tujya mbere mukurandura ikibazo cyimirire mibi  ku abana. Ngendeye kubyambayeho, nizera neza ndashidikanya ko uburyo bwo kwinjiza abagabo muri gahunda bizatuma abagabo bahereza umwanya abagore babo muri gahunda zo gufata ibyemezo, Atari ugufasha abogore babo mu kwita kubana babo nkababyeyi ahubwo no kwuzuza inshingano zabo bakwiye kwubahiriza.

Biri mu ngamba zigihugu gushishikariza abagabo kwumva agaciro ko gukorera hamwe no gufatira hamwe imyanzuro m’urugo. Ibi bikazafasha mukuzamura ubufatanyabikorwa hagati yibigo birebwa niki kibazo. Ibi bituma ngira icyizere ko impinduka nziza twifuzaga kubona kubijyanye nimirire mibi bigiye kuba impamo.