June 18, 2021
New Home, New Hope: Meet Masenga Nagijimana
In 2019, Masenga Nagijimana and his wife, Nankumi Esperance, arrived in Iowa in search of a brighter future for their six children. The life they left behind in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa, was difficult – 72% of its residents live on less than $1.90 per day; 43% of children are malnourished; 80% of households don’t have access to sanitation (source: Opportunity International).
Iowa provided better living conditions, but challenges remained. The family did not speak English, making navigation of the U.S. health system difficult, and accessing available community resources confusing. In January 2020, Masenga and Nankumi welcomed their seventh child – the first born in the U.S. “We were excited to raise our children in America,” said Masenga. “Children are highly valued and are given educational opportunities we did not have in Africa.”
The birth of Benitha Uwineva-Masenga was the event that brought the family in touch with EveryStep’s Des Moines-based Community Home Visitation (CHV) program and nurse Megan Vang. “The parents are doing their best to provide a safe, loving home for their seven children,” said Vang. Masenga has high praise for Megan and the EveryStep CHV team. “She has helped us a lot every step of our child’s development,” said Masenga. “Immunizations, doctor appointments, everything – she has helped us! The program is very good.”
The Community Home Visitation program offers nursing visits to pregnant and parenting women living in Polk and Dallas counties. Registered nurses provide prenatal and postpartum health education, child development screening and education, prenatal depression screening and referral, referrals to community resources, nutrition counseling and family planning counseling. In 2020, the program served 244 pregnant and parenting women.
EveryStep has helped the family connect with community resources and education, and ensured they have access to adequate health care. EveryStep’s interpreters have played a vital role in these efforts. These interpreters are skilled not only in the language, but also have intimate, first-hand knowledge of the struggles and challenges families face when resettling in the U.S.
The family was enrolled in the CHV program from February 2020 to April 2021; because of new health concerns for their infant and some of the other children, EveryStep is currently in the process of reenrolling them in the program. “Although they continue to encounter struggles and have many barriers to overcome, they continue to face these challenges with a smile on their faces,” said Vang.
To learn more about EveryStep’s Community Home Visitation program and other services for children and families, click here.