I have returned to Uganda and I have had the pleasure of meeting up with more than 40 of Hands to Hearts’ graduates. I am always eager to conduct follow up interviews with those who have participated in HHI’s training on early childhood development. What have they remembered? And what difference has this had in their lives and the lives of their children?
When asked, “Since the HHI training, is there a difference in how you spend your time with your children? If yes, could you please describe/explain how?” The women and the men described with great enthusiasm and pride that they now make more time, all through the day, to spend with their children. There was the overwhelming response of decreased physical discipline (“not beating my child anymore”), increased awareness and understanding of the child’s communication. The parents are feeling much more confident in how to respond to their child, and they are more at ease in caring for them. Again and again, it was reported that they feel they have developed a more loving bond with their child and their children are responding positively.
The children of HHI’s graduates are more likely to seek out the company of their parents and feel safer with them. The parents are now consciously trying to create loving bonds with their children, they give baby massage, play games, tell stories and spend time singing to their children. One mother reported that because she learned that her baby was learning language before he could speak, she spent more time talking and singing to her baby. The outcome she noticed is that her child now has a larger vocabulary than other children his age.
We also ask HHI graduates if they have made changes in health practices. This is surprisingly one of the most popular sections of HHI’s training. Parents report significant improvements in nutrition, hygiene and sanitation practices and they quickly notice that their children are sick less often and gain more weight.
When asked if anyone else has noticed changes in actions of our HHI graduates, again we hear very noticeable and positive outcomes. They report that both their children and their neighbors have noticed. The children are found to be discussing these changes amongst themselves and they now seek out and enjoy spending more time with their parents. The neighbors have observed that the HHI graduates are calmer, more gentle and nurturing with their own children and the children in the community, so much so that some of the neighbors now call them “Grand” (like Grandparent) as a term of respect and in recognition of their loving manner with all of the children. Many of these neighbors have approached the HHI graduates, asking them what they are doing and why. Now HHI is overwhelmed with requests for more and more training.
Let the love flow!
Special thanks to Christine Chaille, Frank Mahler who created HHI’s brilliant training materials with the input of our fabulous India team, led by Sujatha Balaje. You have touched the lives of tens-of-thousands of babies with more love.