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.
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.
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.
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
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!