Providing Young Children a Healthy Start in Life

Muunga Lubinda, Program Coordinator for Mulumbo Working with young children takes perseverance and a high degree of patience. My colleagues who do this day in and day out inspire me.

One such person is Muunga Lubinda, Program Coordinator for Mulumbo Early Childhood Care and Development Foundation. Mulumbo is lead partner for a Firelight initiative focused on improving developmental outcomes for children under five, funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Through our phone and email correspondence she has impressed me with her thoughtful, diligent, and timely work. I was curious to learn more about her choice to work with youngsters. She graciously agreed to this blog interview.

How did you first get involved in early childhood development (ECD)?

I first got involved in ECD in 2003 when I was required to conduct research as a requirement for an award of a diploma in social work. My research topic was the “Effects of Early Childhood on Child Development.” A friend of mine introduced me to Mulumbo. My attachment at Mulumbo was really exciting and I learnt a lot from the interactions with children and caregivers. The literature that I collected on ECD provided me with a lot of information, which made me value and want to learn more about ECD. After this first involvement I continued to be interested in issues of ECD through reading. It was only after 7 years in 2010 that I joined Mulumbo.

Can you tell me a little about your role in this project?

My role in the project is to prepare fieldwork plans and budgets. I supervise and monitor operational site activities. I also build the capacities of caregivers and parents through various trainings in ECD and mobilize resource for the project through proposal writing.

What most excites you about working with communities to improve ECD?

The support that we get from the community. The zeal and willingness that the community has in ensuring their children have a better start in life through ECD. The children from these communities are full of life, are intelligent, and they thrive when they are at the center.

What has surprised you most about working with community-based organizations around ECD?

The passion they have for children and the will to do something for children despite the financial difficulties. The eagerness to deliver ECD services regardless of their limited ECD knowledge and skills.

What do you find most challenging about your role as Lead Partner or Organizational Capacity Builder? Lack of utility vehicle for the organization to enable it to efficiently and effectively implement capacity building activities that require a lot of travelling to grant partners. Lack of ECD policy to guide ECD programs and trainings.

What gets you out of bed every morning? The belief that each day brings about new hope and new possibilities. The passion, and unconditional love, for the children. The fact that the children we serve have an opportunity to be in a safe environment than being on the street.

Mulumbo early childhood center

About on Mulumbo Early Childhood Care and Development Foundation

Mulumbo trains volunteer caregivers and community support groups to manage early childhood education centers. The organization integrates multiple facets of community strengthening and child wellbeing such as nutrition, health, gender, and community development programs.

As Lead Partner of the Hilton Foundation funded initiative to support the improvement of quality services provided to children attending ECD centers, Mulumbo dedicates supports the development of ECD programs of 4 smaller CBOs in Zambia. Funds support learning circles, mentoring visits, and trainings for the partners. Through this capacity building support grantee-partners improve ECD programming, organizational management, and better serve vulnerable children.