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4th Introductuary Session : Hamba Bamba Funda's Early Childhood Development Project

With the obligatory coffee in hand we set off to Kliptown. As this was to be the last session of the Introduction there was a sense of relief, accomplishment yet sadness in the air. Would the mothers want to continue?

All arrived for the last session which was held in the baby room of the Kliptown Community Pre School. Both groups laid their children out on the blanket and started tapping and squeezing from top to bottom, paying special attention to the of the babies even started tapping herself on her own!!! Monja then pointed out “if your baby is making a fist then gently squeeze it which will then release the clenching, something they hold inside” she demonstrated again how to transition from back to side mentioning not to move the head when doing so “this may take some time but is part of the development”. Both groups then played with homemade toys that the mothers had made.

The theme for this session was “how do babies learn...through their senses”. Monja explained to all that we all learn from “play, listening and looking therefore communicating” using the 5 senses

· see

· smell

· taste

· listen

· feel

To demonstrate this both groups sat in a circle and closed their eyes. A hot cross bun, wrapped marshmallow Eater egg and an unwrapped marshmallow Easter egg was passed from mother too mother. They were encouraged to smell, feel and taste each object. “what were your senses telling you” enquires Monja

“I could smell the cinnamon”

“the eggs were soft”

“I could smell the chocolate”

“I could taste the marshmallow”

were typical responses.

All guessed correctly but Monja points out “it is important to stimulate the senses of your baby, this is how they will learn”.

The mothers then took toys and shook and banged on the floor in front of the children “this stimulates them...find out if they like a soft or louder noise” mentions Monja, one baby even went to reach for the rattle “allow them to explore” she concludes.

Both groups of mothers were then asked to lay on their backs, allowing their babies to be next to them or on top of them. Monja asked them to close their eyes and then imagine tracing themselves in their minds and from the sensations they receiving from the floor from head to toe, comparing both sides, noticing the contact with the floor. Next they were asked to concentrate on their breathing “how is your chest and belly moving along with the quality of your breath”. The purpose of this is to simulate grounding.

After moving to a sitting position Monja asked “thefeedback from the floor, what is it telling you”

“telling me to rest”

“not relaxed as my baby was on top of me”

“relaxed, wanted to sleep”

were typical responses

“the babies take up too much of your time” points out Monja “you need to look after yourselves more and rest when you can” remarks Monja “you need to be more in touch with your mind, body and soul”, “but how can we with the children” was a reply “try and plan some time, go for a walk or read a book, sit under a tree...whatever makes you relax” she concludes.

After lying on her back “Anna” did reply by saying “it was nice, I lay there thinking about myself and now I feel calmer”. Her nephew that she brings to the classes is always hyperactive and as time when on after this part of the session he became less active “babies are influenced by their surroundings, if as mothers you are calm this will have an impact on your children” Monja noted “if you find quite time in the day for yourselves then so will the child”. The 1st group also noticed as time went on, that they were not having to breastfeed to keep the children happy.

“It was a great discovery for mother Rebecca to see how her baby did not cry once in the session and how she was not asking for her mother’s breast!”

As a conclusion for both groups Monja asked who would be interested in participating in the Pilot Project, all were keen.

“How do you feel about us” remarked one of the mothers “I didn’t expect you all to turn up for all the sessions” Monja replied honestly “but you all seemed to understand what was being taught and was very proud of you when the TV cameras were here, the way you spoke to the camera about what you have learnt over the 4 workshops”

We have decided that we will start the Pilot project in Kliptown on May 1st.

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