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1st Introductuary Session : Hamba Bamba Funda's Early Childhood Development Project

With coffee in hand, we set off on the 45-minute drive to start the First of 4 Introduction workshops for HBF Early Childhood Stimulation pilot project. As this has been some time in planning there was certainly anticipation and excitement in the air, perhaps tinged with a little nervousness.

In total 11 women and babies were inducted, split into two 1 ½ hour sessions. The theme in both was for the women to realize more about the project and for Monja to understand and discuss their needs, whether it is their current circumstances or the babies. Monja explained during the pandemic the sense of isolation has become a major problem for adults and children, something that we all can now relate too, not a nice position to be in. She pointed out that their babies are going through the same if they are not being stimulated and that a connection is needed. She explained by using a simple technique of “tapping, squeezing and singing” brings a connection to a child that is essential to their early development. It was emphasized that this was a pilot program but the ultimate aim is to “train you to be Day Care workers” by “using education to empower” HBF’s philosophy of exchange was then explained, in return Monja would like to learn words/phrases in their language, today she learnt “wamkelekile” & “niyamkelekile”...welcome The women were then asked to introduce themselves and asked to relate something about themselves or the children... “Angela” is just 16 years old and her daughter has digestion problems...something Monja helped to elevate later with a demonstration. “Oratile” was brought by her Grandmother as her mother is in Matric and studying away from home, she struggles to eat solid food...when Monja touched her belly she could just feel a solid mass in her stomach. “Rebecca” has a real connection with her baby “I can’t spend more than an hour away from her” but needs to find work to survive. Baby “Farid” was brought by his Grandmother. She rescued him from her sister as he was being abused/neglected by both of his parents, drug related. “Clinton” is hyperactive and his mother is also away as she is studying for her Matric. “Thapelo” who is 11 months eats well and lives with her Mum and Dad. “Portia” is a single mother and has concerns as she needs to work, the Father of her baby does not support them and is not involved in the baby’s life. In both sessions Monja took individual women and the babies to a mat and with the help of a doll showed them various touch techniques to help them form a better connection with the baby, perhaps even improving an ailment. Singing and movement whilst doing so are also an important part of the connection, especially if they are crying. Both groups sang a different song in a different way but had a common theme of looking at the baby at the same time. Monja then invited all of the children together on the mat so they could connect. By then all of the women were in awe of how different the children were, connecting with each other. Monja stressed to everyone that the movement and singing should become part of everyday life and they will see a continuous improvement. To bring the sessions to a close, both groups prayed. “It was beautiful to see how the group was united after the work we did today” Monja reflected “the theme of connection was carried through to a prayer in the end” Walking back to the car we quickly popped into meet “Bob”, who’s space we ended up using for the induction. “Bob” is a prominent member of the community and has children and their education very close to his heart. He was impressed that the project has now started, albeit as an introduction and is willing to spread the word as it may have transpired that only one section of the Kliptown community may be aware of its existence. “Bob” then introduced us to “George” his right- hand man. “George” wanted to learn more and also suggested various ways of being able to take the project to the next level.

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