By Sabine Scheppe, Johnson & Johnson Global Community Impact Secondment with Aga Khan Foundation East Africa
This year, I’ll be seeing World Children’s Day through new eyes. When I first learned that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) would enable me to serve a six month Secondment at the Madrasa Early Childhood Development Programme (MECP), supported by the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) and a partner of the J&J Global Community Impact team in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, I knew I had to go. As a mother of two twin girls of my own, I felt compelled to pack my bags and make the journey from Germany to Zanzibar to support the development of young children.
Pemba, part of the Zanzibar archipelago, is lush and green. Across the island landscape, you’ll come across women working outside, dressed in their colourful kangas dotting the hillside, accompanied by their young children. For first-time visitors this beautiful paradise can obscure the fact that 55 percent of the population lives in poverty. In a country where nearly two-thirds of the population is under the age of 25, a strong start to life is key to overcoming this. Ensuring a child’s optimal health and development during this time is crucial to their ability to think, form relationships, and live to their fullest potential.
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