Josephine Simpson - Roving Caregiver
A typical day for 34 year old Josephine Simpson, begins as early as 5:00 am when she is up before dawn doing her household chores. She then gets her two children – 6 year old daughter Joanna and 14 year old son Jovan – ready to go to their respective schools.
By 8:00 am Josephine has left her house to visit the six or seven other homes in the community of Portland Cottage where she provides activities to stimulate the physical, mental and social growth and development of young children in these homes along with useful advice and guidance for their parents. Josephine is a Rover.
She works with the Roving Caregivers Programme which is organised by the Rural Family Support Organisation (RuFamSO), a UNICEF Jamaica partner. It is a non-formal, integrated programme of child development and parenting education provided through a home-visiting service carried out by 38 Rovers working in about 70 communities in the parish of Clarendon. Josephine was a beneficiary of the programme before she became a Rover.
“I first heard about the programme when a Rover in my community introduced the programme in about 2002. My daughter was then about a year and six months old and I got her involved. The programme focuses on the stimulation programme and it was good for both my daughter and for me.”
The Rovers reach rural children, many of whom are not in day care and do not receive adequate care and stimulation for early childhood development.
“The programme helped me find more time for my child and gave me a better understanding of how to educate her. With my first child I did not have the knowledge about setting stimulation tasks. I learnt to encourage her to scribble, to set puzzles and work with pictures,” Josephine explains.
After her daughter ended the programme, Josephine did a course in garment construction with RuFamSO but she found out that she was hooked on early childhood care and began working as Rover in 2005.
“With the experience I had with my daughter and what I learnt I saw where I could help in my community to do the job”
Josephine enjoys her work even though she barely has a minute to spare during the day. She pays particular attention to teenage mothers and says she always encourages them to join a RuFamSo training programme to learn a skill or to re-enter the school system.
“There is one fifteen year old that I into the UAP (Uplifting Adolescents Programme) here. She is attending classes and I was even able to sew her school uniform for her,” Josephine says proudly.
* Footnote: UNICEF funding for the Roving Caregivers Programme ended in December 2005 and RuFamSO is seeking funds to continue the valuable work of the programme, which has won widespread acclaim and has received the prestigious Maurice Pate Award.