One Thousand Precious Days: Rwanda’s Poem

Tilaye Nigussie, former Country Director for Concern Worldwide Rwanda (now in Tanzania) wrote this poem for Rwanda’s second national nutrition summit, held in Kigali from November 22-23, 2011. The conference focused on scaling up nutrition interventions to prevent irreversible physical and mental stunting during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life. It is also the focus of Tilaye’s poem, “One Thousand Precious Days.”

November 19, 2013 - Last update: July 4, 2022

Tilaye Nigussie, former Country Director for Concern Worldwide Rwanda (now in Tanzania) wrote this poem for Rwanda’s second national nutrition summit, held in Kigali from November 22-23, 2011. The conference focused on scaling up nutrition interventions to prevent irreversible physical and mental stunting during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life. It is also the focus of Tilaye’s poem, “One Thousand Precious Days.”

Tilaye often write poems in Amharic (his native language) and English as a hobby. He was compelled to write this particular poem because of the alarming state of food insecurity around the world and the growing interest among governments, policy-makers and donors to eliminate malnutrition in a strategic and coordinated manner. In Rwanda, remarkable progress has been made to prevent malnutrition, particularly since 2009. This poem is a tribute to the effort Rwanda made to address malnutrition and is also an expression of Tilaye’s hope that the coordinated movement to end child malnutrition will continue and be scaled-up to give all children a healthy start to life, for their future as well as Rwanda’s.

Tilaye decided to write the poem after listening to a report on BBC radio about the importance of the first 1000 days to a child’s future growth and development. Coincidentally, a colleague of his who was leading the Concern Worldwide Rwanda Child Survival and Nutrition programme was involved in organizing Rwanda’s second national nutrition summit. At the time, Tilaye was the Country Director for the Concern Worldwide Country Programme. The role gave him an opportunity to see first-hand stunting and wasting, which cause irreparable damage to children.

Concern’s involvement in organizing the second national nutrition summit was an opportunity for raising awareness about the importance of the first 1000 days in the life if a child. Tilaye decided to write a poem to show that the 1000 days are precious and sent the draft to the organising committee. He received encouraging news from members of the team and received constructive feedback.

Part of the poem was included in a musical drama. The full content was read by actress Diana Rugege Naleli at the summit and was displayed on a roll-up poster.

Read One Thousand Precious Days

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