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Week 4 : Hamba Bamba Funda's Early Childhood Development Pilot Project

This week’s journey was dampened with the news that another guest from a different NPO was unable to attend but never less with a packed car we set off.

After the 5 minutes relax in silence, Monja asked the mothers of both groups what has happened to them and their babies during the past week.

“my baby has its 1st tooth”

“you remember “Mbali” was not eating correctly” mentions “Rebecca”, “well I am now giving her soft porridge and her appetite has improved”

“I lost my phone” says a sad “Maude”, a new mother

“if you are feeling sad a baby can notice this, which is not good” stresses Monja “stress is part of life and it is how we manage and deal with it affects are relationships, even with your children”, “this is an example of connecting with ourselves”, “we are sharing and connecting with each other, which is good” concludes Monja.

Both groups were now asked if they notice anything different over the week about their children

“making sounds”

“not sleeping as unwell”

“saying mamma & dada”

“holding a toy”

“rolling by herself”

“likes cars as he was driven in one”

were typical replies

Both conversations tied in nicely with this week’s theme, connecting with your baby.

The 1st group now laid their babies on the floor in a circle and stared to rub their chests “this is engaging and making a connection” points out Monja. A session of tapping and squeezing followed and with the sounds they were making, the infants enjoyed it.

Next Monja demonstrated the transition from back to belly and belly to back. Whichever way the baby’s head is facing the opposite leg is bent, with the knee pointing to the ceiling and is then moved across the other knee so that the foot can touch the floor, in this position she tapped and rubbed the child’s back. The foot that is touching the floor now can be rubbed along the floor and then holding that leg, slide it downwards so the baby turns, eventually onto its belly. The arm that is stuck under the armpit can be released by raising the pelvis on the same side, until it is freed.

“the addition I want to show you today is to encourage the baby’s to roll to their the backs by themselves” advised Monja. With the children on their bellies a leg was moved upwards, towards the heads along the ground, parallel to the pelvis. This was done, alternating the legs “by doing so this strengthens the back and pelvis ready for crawling” Monja concludes, eventually the children rolled over.

In pairs the mothers now practised both techniques before transition on each other, whilst the babies played, in order they could understand what it feels like. Monja then demonstrated both techniques along with the transition on a mother, whist still in pairs the mothers followed suit, again so they know what it feels like.

The room had become boisterous so Monja proposed singing to calm the group down. The mothers started loudly which only fuelled the situation. “the tone and the loudness of your voice will be picked up by your baby and they will react to it, be soft and they will respond” advises Monja.

A long overdue 3 minutes relax in silence was observed to end the session.

The 2nd group also started with tapping and squeezing. A new baby called “luyanda” joined this week. He was a little hesitant when Monja approached him, “it takes a bit of time to build up trust with someone he has never met before” remarked Monja. She then proceeded to tap and squeeze his mother “if he seems me doing it to you he will assume it is ok and eventually he will mimic”, which he did. After that he was more receptive to Monja, allowing her to demonstrate on his arms and legs.

Continuing with this groups theme of connection through play a slide was brought out for them to use. “at this age climbing is all about exploration and a child learns through curiosity” points out Monja “with no stimulation they will just be there” she concludes. At first the mothers were told “just observe, if they climb up the steps see how they climb, if they struggle then assist”. “Clinton” who is very adventurous climbed up immediately but could not work out how to slide, he was helped out by Monja. She then showed him the technique using a doll, which he mimicked after a few attempts. The other children were a little more hesitant so Monja encouraged their mothers to crawl under the slide, the babies soon followed, which was playful. Once they had enough courage they soon started to climb the steps and wanted to slide, mimicking “Clinton”. “you must create a playful situation or they will not want to participate” notes Monja.

To calm down, all now sung songs.

Just before the 3 minutes relax in silence Monja demonstrated on a doll where the nose, eyes, ears and mouth were. On each child she did the same, touching their faces “to turn this into a game use a mirror when doing so, saying the name of the parts as you touch” said Monja.

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