From the Heart...

Oct. 15th – Join HHI in Portland!

HHI’s Affair of the Heart, celebrating our 10th Anniversary and all who have been a part of HHI’s family and friends who have made HHI available to almost 200,000 moms, dads and babies around the world. Get your tickets today to join the celebration and meet a very special guest who will be making an amazing announcement - unveiling HHI’s next chapter that will change everything!

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Tickets only $20

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/859396

 

 

 

HHI Awarded by the Dalai Lama

Once every four years, 50 “unsung heroes” are chosen from around the globe to be given a unique and sacred award by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  On February 23, 2014, His Holiness recognized Hands to Hearts International’s founder and director, Laura Peterson, as an Unsung Hero of Compassion.

“These individuals have been selected as representatives of the tens of thousands of people worldwide who quietly serve the disenfranchised and work to improve our communities through their personal efforts,” says Dick Grace, founder of Grace Family Vineyards and board chair of Wisdom in Action, the organization hosting the unique celebration. “We don’t see them or hear about them in the daily news, but they exemplify a humanism and heroism to which we must each aspire.”

Laura Peterson & Dalai Lama

Watch the entire ceremony, Laura is awarded at 1:19.50

Laura was among this elite group of honorees for her creation and efforts in running HHI as a nonprofit dedicated to training and empowering the caregivers to better the health and overall development of the world’s most vulnerable children, in their earliest years.  To date HHI’s training has been led in India, Uganda, Russia, and Nambia, for almost 42,000 parents, caregivers, and health workers, who in turn are able to better care for the 144,300 young children they serve.

Laura was nominated by Ann Down, the founder of The Good Works Institute, Inc., who believed her work through HHI was an outstanding example of the Unsung Heroes’ values and mission. “HHI’s training is significant in several ways,” said Down. “It’s benefiting thousands of children, many of them orphans who suffer a complete lack of emotional care. By teaching essential bonding and affection in the earliest years, it’s preventive, which is much more cost-effective than trying to deal with the negative health and mental health traumas later in life. And HHI’s model is unique, in that women who are trained can in turn train others, which quickly empowers entire communities.”

Laura was thrilled and surprised to be named among 2014’s class of Unsung Heroes. “These people are among the most remarkable, selfless, and giving individuals in the world. The things they are doing are globally game-changing. To be included among such a select few is an honor that’s both gratifying and humbling,” she said. (Read about why Laura was awarded)

Co-hosting the event with Dick Grace were Peter Coyote, actor; Father Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries; Grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim, Takelma Indian Elder of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz; and Furyu Schroeder, Zen priest from Green Gulch Zen Center.

Wisdom in Action (WIA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing awareness of the importance of compassion in action. WIA hosted Unsung Heroes of Compassion 2014, the fourth event of its kind since 2001, to raise awareness that it is each individual’s obligation to help the disenfranchised among us and to acknowledge that each act of compassion makes an important difference to the world.

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Our deepest appreciation to Dick & Anne Grace, Ann Down, Christine Wright, Valerie Tate, Elizabeth Share and the many others who made this incredible honor possible.

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If you don’t know Laura’s back story about what led her to launch HHI almost 10 years ago, check out this short video and hear her explain why.

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Laura’s premise and HHI’s focus is to awaken love, kindle compassion and save lives – literally!  And, we have seen this come to life – bettering the lives, and yes, even saving them, in some of the most desperate areas of the world.

While Laura is the one who received this award, HHI has become this force for love, nurturing, empowerment and health globally because of an incredible team, the most generous donors ever and committed local partners.  Thank you for being a part of this incredible adventure!

 

A Community Volunteer in Uganda

Bonny Ajala, pictured in the red  t-shirt, was an HHI trained Peer Educator, for his village of Odoro in northern Uganda. He was enthusiastic about HHI’s lessons on early childhood development and he demonstrated skill and commitment in sharing HHI messages with the parents and caregivers in his village.  He became a popular community leader, spreading HHI’s unique knowledge and skills, supporting parents and young children alike.

ECD in Uganda

Bonny’s HHI lessons were embraced and led to new, positive practices such as encouraging parents to talk to their baby while feeding and giving baby massage. Parents quickly noticed the positive results these practices had on their children and their appreciation for both Bonny and HHI grew.  The community benefited so much that they recommended him to the local nursery school director, asking him to engage Bonny as a mentor of the school teachers who would handle their kindergartners.  The director took up the initiative and employed Bonny to teach HHI lessons, such as ’’ taking care of myself’’, ‘’language development’’, and ‘’ health habits’’ among others.

Now the school director and the entire community see Bonny as a community resource. So, in addition to his job as an HHI Peer Educator for the parents of his village, Bonny serves as a mentor during school hours to cater for needs of the teachers and caregivers who developed trust and confidence in him.

Thank you Bonny!  We are so proud of you, your passion, commitment and intelligence.

*story shared by staff from Medical Teams International, HHI’s partner in Lira, Uganda

A Grandma Says “Thank You HHI”

In a tribal village, far down a dirt road in the rural district of Angul, Odisha, India, an HHI training was offered to all the mothers and grandmothers to join us to learn about early childhood development.  The response was fabulous, with more than 22 moms piling in, almost all had young infants, and a few had newborns snuggled close to their chests.

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The moms were excited and surprised to have a training that would offer education and support for their role as caregivers/mothers, this was a new experience for them.  HHI is unique in offering parent education and even more so because of where and how we do this, that is in extremely remote areas with few resources.  And, while this village has been raising babies for generations, none of their babies came with instruction manuals (just like the rest of the world’s babies!) and they just do the best they know how.

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They listened intently, soaking up the new information and merging it into their own knowing and practices.  It is always a joy when I get to witness an HHI training, I learn as much from the participants as they do from our trainers and the conversations that they spark with each other.

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A special surprise that I got at this training though was from this grandmother. She was a village elder, born and raised within her tribe, in this small village.  She’s seen a lot in her years and she was a wealth of knowledge.  To my delight she had come to attend HHI’s training and she moved to sit next to me in the back of the room.  I was slightly daunted, thinking, “what could HHI possibly teach her?”.  But, she was very interested in the new information and all of the activities and she leaned over and said to me (via a translator), “Thank you. Thank you for coming to our village. This education is all new to our mothers and they need this, this will make them more intelligent and our children will benefit forever.”

Wow… I was humbled and honored to know the value she saw in HHI.  Thank you grandma!

 

 

 

 

15 Moms + 1 Dad in Namibia

Geri Kemper, a Peace Corps volunteer and HHI Trainer, based in rural Namibia, is on the tail end of her time in Africa. Here is her most recent HHI story.

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Well it’s my last week here at my site and 10 days till I’m officially done with my Peace Corps contract. Luckily I was able to conduct one last Hands to Hearts training just before I’m leaving. Last week I was able to bring together 15 caregivers from local OVC centers to do a 2 day HHI workshop with them.

Most of the centers were associated with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare and a couple were privately run. The participants were mostly woman with one man attending, it was great to see the other women commenting to him that it was amazing he was doing such work, he was almost getting embarrassed from all the attention. I think I pushed him over the edge to full blown embarrassment when I mentioned to him that he was providing such a great example of being a man to the children he is working with.

Roswitha Muriki acting out baby cue

All the participants enjoyed their time together and loved learning about the various forms of early childhood development. They want my counterpart to continue leading HHI trainings and to come check on them at their centers. My co-trainer/counterpart, Ms. Emily Karambuka, is the Youth Health Program Officer here at the local Rural Youth Center.

Ms. Emily Karambuka trainer

The participants were from 10 communities, each center sent one caregiver and did their best to select a teenage mother in the community to come to the workshop as well. With the Kavango having one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Namibia we thought it would help them to better care for their children. While all the moms love their babies, there are some traditional beliefs here about babies and pregnancy that can be confusing.  Some of these include:

1. the child cannot be given a mirror, she will see a ghost

2. the baby cannot be carried at the back at nighttime, bad spirits will follow the baby

3. if you haven’t been at the home of the baby before, you must stir some soil with your hands to prevent the baby from getting sick

4. when a child doesn’t stop urinating at night, put an herb on the waist of the child and the urinating will stop

5. a pregnant women cannot eat any kind of poultry or else the baby will always shiver

6. a pregnant woman cannot eat out of a pot because the baby will have a dark completion

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Geri , thank you for taking the initiative and being such a supportive community member, teacher and friend to the people of Namibia.  We’ve been so proud to have your on our HHI team!

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