“She especially loves singing with me. She likes to invent her own songs. I do not always know what she is saying,” Jean laughs, “but I always try to join in.”
Jean also makes toys for Anita, using discarded materials like plastic bottles. “Her favorite toy is a small car I made from common objects I found lying around.” As he speaks, Anita totters across the yard, pulling the car behind her on a string. She occasionally stops, grinning, to pick up small objects and place them inside the car.
Although Jean finds extraordinary joy playing with Anita, he admits that he was not always such an attentive father.
“With Anita’s older sister, I did not always play with her. I do not think I truly understood the vital role a father plays in helping his child develop.” Through training sessions for parents at Anita’s early childhood development centre, facilitated by UNICEF, Jean has learnt a lot about the important first 1,000 days of a child’s life, and how his involvement as a father is preparing Anita to be successful as she grows.
Smiling brightly while Anita scampers around near him, Jean says, “The benefits are clear to me. She is really growing into a very vibrant and active child.”
Source: UNICEF Rwanda