Almost two years ago, HHI was looking for a film team, not just any film team, but the best we could get, for as little as we could pay. We let our friends at Vermilion Films of Portland, Oregon know, just as they were celebrating their Sundance Award for best documentary. Much to our delight, they are fans of Hands to Hearts’ work and they made it possible for us to work together to create HHI’s Baby Massage DVD. Still the perfect baby shower gift for any new parents!
I was delighted to learn that our friends at Vermilion, Irene Taylor Brodsky and cameraman SibyVeliath, have been nominated for an Oscar for their documentary short, “Final Inch”. This film documents dedicated individuals in India travel throughout the country urging parents to vaccinate their children against the disease, contributing to the global efforts to eradicate polio worldwide. See the buzz and cheer them on!
Congratulations to our friends who at Vermilion – doing important work, and doing it the best!
Now think about it… you can give the coolest baby shower gift ever. It provides simple baby masage instruction for new parents, it is easy to follow and beautifully crafted, all proceeds benefit HHI’s on-going work with vulnerable children, it features an adorable baby, and it was created by a film team that has won at Sundance and is now heading to the Oscars! Buy the DVD today!
An Interview By Liz Kimmerly Grover
Hands to Hearts International
I recently had the chance to interview Pat Arrington, a longtime supporter of Hands to Hearts International and recent visitor to Kenya, where she actually had the chance to teach HHI’s baby massage method at an orphanage during her trip.
It was quite interesting for me to talk with her because she is an HHI supporter and sees the organization from an outside perspective. Working for HHI sometimes makes it hard for me to know how people view and process our message. Pat’s feedback definitely helped.
With a very sweet and patient voice, Pat told me a little bit about her background and that she loves HHI because of its “focus on the children” and thinks, “In any country today, we have to look at the children”. She has an adopted younger brother who lived in an orphanage until the age of seven, and she also has two adopted children.
When they were very young, she learned about the significance and joy of bonding with them. She told me how she would spend the time after their morning baths giving baby massage on a quilt in the middle of the living room floor.
“Our daughter was a month old when we adopted her and it was just such a fun time and made us very close. Seeing what love and affection can do for little ones is really why I got so excited for HHI”
Pat is a retired accountant and said that she likes to volunteer for her local church. This is how she went to Kenya last month; the church took a mission there to visit orphanages in Nairobi and the surrounding area. When they asked her why she wanted to go to Africa, she said she wanted to help the small children.
Before embarking on this journey, she watched the HHI Baby Massage DVD many times and read the “how to” massage poster that came with the DVD. She had a dozen of the posters enlarged and laminated to give away to orphanage caregivers during the trip.
When she got there, she visited 3 different orphanages and two schools. Although conditions at one of the orphanages were very poor, Pat was able to teach baby massage at Huruma Children’s Home in Ngong, in the outskirts of Nairobi. She said, “Some of the caregivers spoke Swahili so the instructional posters really helped”, and that the baby she massaged was “so cute to watch and you could tell that she was enjoying the massage. When I massaged her tummy and chest, her arms would just fall out to her sides and she would relax”. When asked what the orphanage caregivers thought, she noticed that they were happy to give the orphans massage and that “They were very excited and took some of the massage posters home to give to their own babies a massage”.
I also asked her if she thought that any of the caregivers knew what attachment disorder is, and she responded with a definite no. However, at the same time she noticed that mothers and caregivers in Kenya were good at keeping their babies close to them; most were very loving.
Pat also visited the slums of Nairobi where people were packed in, their living conditions and proper hygiene was nowhere to be found. She recalled, “When I was in the slums, I walked into the play area that had nothing but dirt. That is where they eat, congregate, and do everything. I looked for a place where I could lay a baby down for a massage and I couldn’t find one. At the minimum, 2 babies shared one bed. The conditions were so bad that I didn’t think it would be healthy to do a massage there”.
I asked her if it was because of the danger of massaging dirt into the skin and she said yes. One 3 year old just begged for Pat to pick her up; she did and right away, the child latched around her neck. It was obvious that the child wanted love.
When asked what she thinks about HHI bringing its program to Kenya, she said, “The government doesn’t run the orphanages in Kenya, although the are registered under the Kenyan Ministry of Social Services and some have Department of Social Services Representatives on their board. They are run by nonprofit organizations meaning that HHI would need to find a way to connect with the organizations or the foundations, but Laura (HHI’s Executive Director) always finds a way! I understand and believe that HHI is needed in Kenya. I think it would be an important part of the infant care, especially for babies who have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS.”
I asked her if she had any final thoughts on HHI and she said, “I love the program. I think Laura has gotten the most ‘bang for her buck’ with what she has invested into HHI. She is remarkable.”
I totally concurred with her response. From everything I’ve seen at HHI, the most amazing part is how many women and children it has helped since 2006: 1,416 women and 12,590 children, with a speedy rate that keeps growing exponentially every month. The conversation was helpful for me to hear and made me excited to see how HHI will tailor its program when it starts in Kenya and other places in Africa. It’s an ongoing story and I know HHI’s evolution and expansion into Africa will help to bring its ravaged lands and people to a higher place.
It all began as a unique idea from HHI’s Advisor, Michael Smolens. He suggested that as a part of HHI’s training materials, we would create a DVD to demonstrate the baby massage techniques used in our orphanage trainings. He sweetened the idea by offering to gift HHI his company’s dotSUB technology, which would allow us to create this training tool in up to 200 languages. The great part is that baby massage can be used on all babies: from Anytown, USA to Mumbai, India. HHI Advisor, Todd Lofgren, said that he as a parent would love learn from HHI’s massage techniques and he believed other US parents would want the DVD as well.
So, last summer, as HHI was overhauling all of our program materials, I embarked on what I thought would be a new “little project”, that of making a short instructional film about the benefits and techniques of baby massage. Wow – I had NO idea what I was getting myself into! Experts in: baby massage, film production, videography, screenplay writing, etc… as well as recruiting HHI staff and an adorable baby in India. Then – only because I was delusional in my naivete – I planned for 2 days of filming to capture all the footage we would need. Our adorable model baby, Palak, was on her own schedule and I soon learned that she was calling all the shots on the film shoot!
Well, after returning with all the footage of Palak (our cute, but very wiggly baby star) the production team here got going. A voice talent narrated the film, over 20 people from around the world got busy translating the film into their own languages, a graphic designer created beautiful art to go with it, and a video house was found to package all of this in 100% recyclable materials. I’m giving you the briefest description of the highlights over the last 8 months. But, finally we are ready to release HHI’s first training video tool–Baby Massage: Nurturing & Bonding Through Touch. It is available to people around the globe – literally – with subtitles in 19 languages! And (BONUS!) it is coming just in time to be the perfect Mother’s Day gift. With a minimum donation of $25, you can give a great resource to a new parent, and at the same time you will be supporting HHI’s efforts to serve children around the world!
Whew! This was a way bigger project than I expected, just as HHI has grown larger, faster and with a greater impact on the lives of thousands in bigger ways than I ever could have anticipated. The outcome is that once again, and with the support of dotSUB, HHI is on the cutting edge with this training tool can be used in countless countries around the world!
Its all been worth it. Now we can share a small part of HHI’s training with you – wherever you may live. See a preview of the film and the full list of languages at our website at http://handstohearts.org/hands-to-hearts-products/baby-massage-dvd/.
I just received a very sweet report from Sujatha, one of HHI’s local trainers in India. Last week she was leading an HHI Training for caretakers at an orphanage. Sujatha reported that, “The children in the orphanage were watching me explaining the massage they all came with their dolls to do the massage. They asked me to stop teaching the trainees and they wanted me to teach for them.”
I can just envision all the children bringing their dolls in and practicing giving the baby massage to care for them. I am sure they had fun, building confidence, empathy and nurturing. Just another small act for greater peace in our world.
For 10 years, I served children suffering from severe emotional disorders. These children were hurt so badly at such an early age that by 5 they had already failed repeatedly in foster homes and adoptions. I realized that I could no longer stand to be the "ambulance squad". In 2004, I founded HHI as a way to reach the world's neediest and youngest children with the simplest, most cost effective forms of healing available. Just as important, I wanted to empower women in the developing world to act for positive change in their families and communities everyday, weaving a stronger social fabric for the benefit of all.