Striving to be a better father every day: meet Ebrima Dampha, a father of seven
Ebrima lives in Ballingho, a small village located in the North Bank Region of The Gambia. He lives with his wife, Musukebba, and seven children in a small house. Ebrima and Musukebba have been married for more than a decade but he never considered childcare to be a shared responsibility with his wife.
“Before the introduction of the Positive Parenting program in Ballingho, the responsibility of childcare was the business of my wife only,” he recalled. “In fact, I rarely had time to talk to my children, my role as a father was more of a provider of the family’s basic needs mainly through farming.”
Ebrima is one of 20 young fathers in Ballingho village that signed up to the Positive Parenting program which is an initiative under the UNICEF Early Childhood Development project, supported by Dubai Cares. The program engages fathers to be more active in parenting and family affairs.
“I am now a primary caregiver of my children,” Ebrima said with a smile. “It has now become a responsibility for me to make sure the children are clean and fed before leaving for school.”
Out of the many practices Ebrima has been learning from the program, proper nutrition and hygiene practices stand out for him. His family is now more conscious of their environment and the food they eat. Like many women in the rural areas, Musukebba, Ebrima’s wife, is mostly burdened by domestic chores. She goes to the farm and takes care of the children. But with the introduction of the Positive Parenting program, her husband, Ebrima, is now very involved in childcare and household tasks. And he is proud of it.
“I take the children to the hospital in Farafenni when they fall sick. This is even more necessary when one takes into consideration the long distance between our village and the health facility. And in appreciation of my efforts, the nurses would exempt me from joining the long queue of people seeking medical attention”.
Aside the support he provides to his wife in taking care of their children, Ebrima has also noticed a stronger bond between him and his children recently, something he attributes to the increased communication and time he spends with them since he enrolled to the Positive Parenting program.
“I make toys for my children”, he said with pride. “The last one I did for my eldest son was a small ball made from unused clothes. These are things in our own environment that require no money to acquire.”
In the small village of Ballingho, the impact of the Positive Parenting is being felt beyond the households.
“In the past, our wives here had not been keen on visiting the health facility in the early stages of their pregnancy; this has now changed”, explained Ebrima as he gestures around the community. “Even the men here realize that they should be accompanying their wives for medical check-ups.”