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3rd Introductuary Session : Hamba Bamba Funda's Early Childhood Development Project

Whilst at motherland buying our coffee and chocolate cookies for the road Monja received some “cosmic” news...the SABC news channel are to send a reporter this morning to record part of the third session of the Early Childhood Development Introductory Workshops. The air was thick with excitement and the journey was spent forewarning everyone involved that the cameras were coming. In both groups Monja started the session by laying the babies on a blanket and the mothers stimulated them by tapping & squeezing the bottom of the foot and moving up the leg saying what it was, they then moved to the arms. Monja reiterated that this was “so the child starts to map out their body parts to their brain” To the 1st group, as they are younger she then demonstrated gently bending the ankles forward and back towards the stomach the babies start to rock up & down “as you can see this stimulating the pelvis, which is very important for the child’s development” points out Monja. Taking this process further Monja should how to simulate rolling onto the stomach. By bending and tapping one leg and moving over towards the opposite hip, the child then starts to move onto its side now, the tapping can be applied to the back. “your children can see what is around them on each side, not just the ceiling which stimulates them” Monja mentions...the babies then all started to babble feeling content, a theme that was to recur during the day. Once this had been repeated from side to side Monja transitioned the child onto its stomach, something they were a little surprised with at first but then the babbling continued. She then started pushing up the backs of the thighs which was then moving the pelvis, which in turn was travelling through the spine and raising the head. Monja then held the feet down on the floor until the baby started to push away and then she stomped the feet “this then gives them a sense of the ground and useful when they start to stand and walk” It was noted that some of the mothers were positioning their children into a sitting position “children normally does not sit before 6 months” Monja remarked “then you must allow them then to stand on their own otherwise the body becomes stiff” Monja noticed with both groups this week when the babies start to get restless, tired or not having their own way the mothers tend to just breast feed them. “only feed when they are hungry otherwise they become wise, you need to create boundaries and a routine” she goes on to say “don’t just respond to crying, let them have their tantrum, don’t be scared if they cry” She demonstrated by cradling and holding under the legs with the baby facing away and stomping the feet whilst singing “the vibration of the stomping travels through the mother’s body to the baby, this has a calming effect and helps to stop them crying especially if you start to sing”...soon they all started babbling again. The theme for this week’s classes was “being present and paying attention”. To demonstrate this Monja paired the mothers up in both groups and they had to put on then remove a jacket from each other, at first whilst not paying attention to what was happening, then whilst concentrating on the removal. “how did it feel to have the jacket put on you” enquires Monja “jerky” “could feel it” “uncomfortable” were typical replies “so how about when it was being removed” she asks “did not notice it” “gentle” “easier” were typical replies “when dressing your babies do it with care and pay attention and give them your time, this will make this a pleasurable experience for all” Monja explained. With the older second group Monja had brought some books with her for them to play with, which were mainly the touch and feel type. The children were on the blanket and started to join in by rubbing their hands over the pages. Monja pointed to various body parts that they were feeling and the babies then started to mimic what she was doing “they love to touch and learn from mimicking you as a mother” she points out. The babbling then started. Crates and boxes were then used as a make shift jungle gym for the rest of the session. The babies were encouraged to roll, crawl or walk over, under, through or around the obstacles...the babbling got louder and louder. “giving space for self-exploration is essential for the development of the child” concludes Monja.

At which point the SABC reporter and cameraman arrived, coinciding with the return of all from the 1st group. The two groups joined forces and went through a recap of some of the stimulation exercises they have learnt over the 3 weeks...the babbling got louder!!! The cameraman recorded this and the reporter then asked questions, interviewing the mothers. Monja was then interviewed at length and she explained how, why and the expectations of the project. The interview was shown on SABC news channel 404 that evening “seeing how the mothers spoke to SABC brought tears to my eyes. I was touched by their confidence and how they spoke about what they have learnt over the past 3 weeks” remarked Monja after the reporter had left. Today’s exchange words were “hambe kahle”...go well To conclude the Lord’s Prayer was said by both groups .

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