Location: namibia

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.


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


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!

group with trainers

In Namibia Moms Embrace HHI

Recently a group of mothers in Namibia gathered with their babies to participate in HHI’s first ever training in their country, all thanks to a young woman who was determined to make it happen.

Geri is from HHI’s hometown of Portland, OR, but she’s been living and working as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Namibia for the last year plus. She speaks the language, offers support, training and friendship to all of her new community.  And not too long ago, she made reached out to Hands to Hearts and made a bold request, “please bring HHI to the families of my community.”

This is not how HHI normally works. It was outside our box.  HHI’s protocol is that HHI is always led via locals, for locals, in collaboration with a community or national organization.  But… we were intrigued and inspired.  HHI is not meant to be available for a few, no baby comes with an instruction manual, and Geri was living in this community, trusted by this community.  We couldn’t say “no”, so we said “yes!”.

And so begins the story of HHI going to Biro, Namibia.  Geri spent months on Skype calls with HHI’s staff, read all of our materials and worked hard to gain a deep understanding of not only our information, but our way of training.  And last month it all came to life!  The mommies of Biro gathered together outside of the health clinic, they learned from each other and from HHI about early childhood development and all sorts of different ways to better their babies health and brain development.


The moms really liked learning about general health issues and about the behavior and cues that babies make to communicate before they can speak.  Baby cues is a favorite lesson in HHI, it helps caregivers gain a greater insight into what their baby needs and thereby enables them to better respond, making life easier and happier for everyone. During the training the women enjoyed sharing new recipes and in a short time they quickly saw the children had more energy  to get up, play and interact with people. This in-turn led the mothers to interact more with their children as they now felt they understood the reasons behind why the children act a certain way, they felt more confident in getting more involved in what their child was doing.

Geri reported that the moms liked HHI’s training so much that they have now begun a weekly mother’s club to where they can discuss various child health topics and early childhood development.

Bravo Mommas!  And thank you Geri!