Tag: attachment

Hands to Hearts Wows at TEDxMtHood!

It was tears, cheers and laughter from the full house at TEDxMtHood!  I’m excited to report, that I truly gave the talk of my lifetime! It took months of preparation, 40+ drafts, and more practice than I ever imagined, but it all came together and was totally worth it!

My talk, Love: a low-tech solution,” tells the story of why I created HHI, some of the trials and tribulations, and our journey from India’s orphanages to communities around the world. I ended with a challenge to all of us be more loving in our everyday lives. Love is a core human nutrient; something babies need to survive and the rest of us need to thrive. In the first 3 years, 85% of brain development occurs, and love is a critical component to building healthy brains and whole people. In our everyday actions, we can just act, or we can act with love. I’ve made a whole career about love, but I’m no expert at putting it into practice. I often act as what I say or do doesn’t matter, but nothing is further from the truth.

Love is one of the most powerful, yet underutilized tools we have to better children’s lives and our world. To learn more, I invite you to watch the video here.

Laura Peterson @ TEDxMtHood

And, when you are all full of warm and fuzzy love – please share this generously with your family, friends and co-workers.

(Photos from the day)



Spread the word! Share your stories on Twitter and FaceBook of how being #LOVED has changed your life.

♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  

My deepest gratitude to all of those who contributed to this talk with their time and talents. Each of you has changed my life with your LOVE, thank you!

BIG thanks to: My partner and most generous supporter, Cris Apatachioae. My talk-whisperer, Cynthia Lopez. The vision, faith and relentless generosity of Jim Greenbaum. All of my colleagues at Thrive Networks, with a special thanks to Jessica Burg. My parents, Don & Roberta Peterson. My smart and talented friends and allies: Sara B. Cooper, Kristin Ohlson, Paige Jones, Julie Livingston, Kara North, Deb Burke, Miriam Garcia, Liliana Barzola Read, Theresa Pridemore, Jensine Larsen, Casey Vaverka, Ted Moeller, Katarina Krouse, Tina Hart, Michelle Jones, Mark Powers, Elicia Brandon, and Darcy Jones. Loren Podwill and his team at Bullivant Houser Bailey PC. The entire TEDxMtHood team, who’s hard work, ceaseless generosity, tech-wizardry, and organizational skills were mind-bogglingly-awesome! And the stunning stage art, created by Sabina Haque.

Miracles of Love in Uganda

It has been a very full week here in Uganda!  I’ve been working with our partners, Medical Teams International, to evaluate the impact HHI is having on child health in the area. I’ve heard some astounding new stories of love awakening, health flourishing and lives being saved – literally!  Here are just a few highlights.

Around the world, and particularly in Uganda, corporeal punishment is still common and is seen as the way to instill morals and discipline in the children.  Its not all that long ago in my country, the US, where the saying was, “spare the rod, spoil the child”.  But once parents participate in HHI training here in Uganda, one of the number one outcomes I hear is that they “no longer beat the children.”  This is quite the radical change, and I think such change can only be caused by love awakening.  After the parents learn about how children are communicating with them non-verbally, all the time, they begin to see things in a whole new light, from the baby’s perspective. Babies do not cry because they are “bad babies”, but because they are tired, hungry, don’t feel good, etc.  Both parent and child benefit and life gets a little easier, as parents become more successful in responding to their baby’s communication, and their bond grows.


A great story from a father in Lira is that after HHI he began to spend more time with his youngest child and he not only grew to recognize the baby’s needs, but he taught the baby basic signs to communicate even more. Their relationship has blossomed and he is so proud of how bonded his baby is with him. He did not have this relationship with his two older children, who he always turned away and sent to their mother, and who he used to punish with beatings. But, he is not looking back with sadness, rather he is now building new relationships with them as well and he proudly tells of how all of his children now run to greet him and want to spend time with him.   — Way to go Papa!

A few snippets of other success stories from Uganda are these:

  • Parents are saying that their younger babies are developing more quickly, talk earlier, walking sooner and are smarter than their older siblings.
  • Women used to have been forced to go to the health centers for treatment, they feared the staff and the medical treatments. But since they have now built relationships with the health workers as they learned HHI, they go willingly and are taking their children for immunizations.
  • An HHI parent in Ogur learned massage and practiced on her neighbor’s son  who has a disability that kept the knee pulled up to his chest and he couldn’t crawl. By giving and teaching massage, the child can now crawl.  Now the father of child has learned and is continuing the massage.
  • “Me and my immediate neighbors now compete in cleanliness of our homes and keeping our children clean.” (parent, Amuca)

And lastly, the story of a life directly saved ~  The story comes from the district of Aromo, where for years thousands of people were confined in refugee camps to escape the savages of war that surrounded their homes.  In the camps, food was scarce, health care even more so, and survival was the daily task.  The majority who survived these camps were left with little dignity, no homes to return to and with HIV.  This is where a young mother was at her wits end with exhaustion and frustration with her baby who had been chronically sick with diarrhea and was not responding to any treatments. She was taking the baby to the river to take drastic action, she was going to throw him in and drown him. At just this time, she came upon Gloria, an HHI Mommy Leader.  Gloria counseled her deeply, listening and offering comfort and hope. After some time, Gloria was able to convince the young mother to take her baby to the Health Center, and she offered to walk her there and stay with her. The outcome is that the baby received treatment and made a full recovery. The veil of the mother’s despair and depression lifted, she returned to her village and now cannot stop talking about how Gloria saved her baby’s life!

Yes, when we say “HHI saves lives”, we are speaking literally.  See Gloria in the red shirt in this picture – Thank you Gloria!



What Happens After HHI?

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.

The Gift of Love

Last week HHI led caregiver trainings at an orphanage for disabled children. This is some of the most important work HHI does, as it is common in India for disabled children to be a source of shame or fear, either kept hidden (and therefore neglected) in the backs of homes, or abandoned to orphanages to be raised by strangers. Regardless of where these children live though, they are rarely touched, no one wants to hurt them, or worse they may be viewed with some disgust or shame, as they are not “normal” and may only be seen as an incredible strain on meager resources. But, they are children, and therefore HHI knows they need love and they likely need touch to help ease their physical pain more than anyone who is not challenged by a disability.

Since our training is very active, the children are a critical part of the experience, they are our best teachers. But last week, these children were very shy, they were not quick to jump into the games or activities and they did not want to get the baby massage. I don’t think they were used to playing or getting involved with their nannies. But, slowly, with lots of coaxing and encouragement, a few brave little ones stepped forward and somewhat reluctantly they assumed the “please massage me position”. Quickly they realized they had just made a brilliant move!

These previously untouched children were now soaking up the smiles, eye contact, love and connection of baby massage! And, they found that the massage helped ease some of their physical discomfort. And the previously shy, insecure and over-worked caregivers were reveling in the shared joy too! They saw that their love was being soaked up and reflected right back to them.  Now, everyday at this orphanage, all work stops from 11 to noon each day and the children all assume the PLEASE massage me positions! They lie down with their friends and wait patiently to receive their daily gift of love.

This is why HHI was created! This simple change is anything but simple to these women and children – their lives will never be the same.

If you want to share HHI’s baby massage with your own child, or a new parent, your purchase of HHI’s instructional Baby Massage DVD for $25 will not only support you, but it will assist in funding the important work that HHI is up to for tens-of-thousands of babies in need. See a preview and Buy one today!

HHI Visits Orphanage in Kampala

The universe has a way of directing us, and our directions were loud and clear while we were in Uganda! Prior to leaving the US, I had contacted an orphanage in Kampala, but though they were very interested in having an HHI Training for their staff, we just didn’t get it together to happen during our visit. But, as it happened this orphanage was directly below the guest house where we were staying, and every morning and every evening, we would look out from our windows and see the babies and the caregivers of this orphanage. So, although it seemed we didn’t have a single spare moment, we decided that we had to make something happen!

Sujatha, Lydia, Mary and myself all walked down the hill one afternoon and led a brief, but enthusiastically received, baby massage training. Over 20 caregivers gathered, women who are caring for an average of 50 babies, all of whom have been either orphaned or abandoned and in need of love and nurturing. As the women gathered around and looked on, these tiny, beautiful little babes, were the eager and very receptive recipients of an HHI training on baby massage, several of the babies volunteered, “assuming the “oh-I’d love a massage!” position, relaxing on a table, and Sujatha began the magic.

Then the women took turns practicing the new moves, with the babies soaking up the love and snuggles! While we were only able to make a brief appearance here on this visit, our local HHI team will soon return to deliver the entire HHI training for all the caregivers and all the babies of this home.