Tag: child health

Baby Tracy Gets Relief

Here is a story from HHI’s colleagues in northern Uganda on the simple power of knowledge and how that led one baby to have a MUCH better day!

Written by Harriet, of Medical Teams International in Lira, Uganda:

Our field team was working with the health worker from Ogur Health Center as they led a workshop for mother’s about immunizations. We were then called upon to sensitize the mothers to early childhood development and we taught the well loved topic and practice of Baby Massage.  On hearing the importance of Baby Massage on babies who find it difficult to pass stool regularly, one mother whose baby’s name is Tracy raised her hand to inquire whether this would apply to her baby’s situation, the baby had spent two days crying because of stomach pains caused by inability to pass out stool. The mother was frustrated with all her efforts to manage the case by giving her daughter tomato juice as her neighbors advised, among so many other home remedies.

I simply assured her to observe what would happen from the baby massage.  We improvised a soft “bed”, I prepared the baby and started stroking her with some vegetable oil.  I started massaging Tracy’s legs, calling out her beautiful name, reached to the arms and softly to the stomach.  In all the strokes she beamed with smiles to the loud laughter from all the observers who could see little Tracy’s joy and comfort and could hear her farting each time I did the tummy strokes on her belly! When I handed her back to her mother, she was cried to come back to me.  The mother dressed her up and by the time it was Tracy’s turn for immunizations she had started to pass stool. The mother said that this was a miracle and asked why she did not know this before.  The mothers have proved this to be a very interesting and practical cure, with no side effects.

We are happy to hear that Tracy and her mother both found such relief!



ARNEC Publishes Research on HHI

The Asia-Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC) just published its research on HHI’s work in India, titled “Empowering Caregivers for Holistic Child Development”. (Click for report)

Their findings are overwhelmingly positive, including quotes such as HHI “holds great potential” teaching caregivers “new practices of nutrition and hygiene, new attitudes towards child development, and improvements in cognitive and linguistic abilities.”  It praises HHI on being able to localize our content and reach the most marginalized, tribal groups, while also being extremely cost-effective.  And, it goes on at length describes how and why HHI works so well for so many.

In 2010, ARNEC chose HHI as one of four sites to document innovative and noteworthy practices in early childhood. HHI was selected out of applications from throughout the Asia-Pacific region and was the only program chosen in all of India for this privilege.

We give our deepest thanks to ARNEC for this opportunity, to Miriam Thangaraj the dedicated researcher, to our tremendous colleagues at Viswa Yuva Kendra in Orissa, India, and to our brilliant curriculum writers Christine Chaille and Frank Mahler.

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 Begins Work with Medical Teams Int’l in Uganda

Recently, HHI staff Laura Peterson and Sujatha Balaje traveled to Uganda to work with MTI staff, key community stakeholders and village mothers to learn more about the community interest and needs in regards to early childhood development (ECD). This was a beginning step in Medical Teams’ four-year Child Survival Project that HHI is supporting with expertise and training for improving early childhood development and thus child health.

We received a very warm welcome from MTI’s team, as well as all the Village Health Teams and the mothers that we spent time with, gathering information and local insight.

We specifically spent our time in the northern region of Uganda, with communities that are just returning to their homes and land after spending years surviving in refugee camps to escape their country’s civil war. Having been in camps for years kept people alive, but led to other traumas and disrupted the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands of people, most of whom are now returning to their abandoned homes. This population is now trying to reconstruct their lives, their families, their tiny plots of farm land that have overgrown, and their small businesses, all in a landscape that has almost no infrastructure for water, health care, communications or travel, let alone the luxury of child care centers of nursery schools. Although there was so much these mothers lacked, what was apparent to us was how much they gave to their children. They were gentle, kind and committed to giving their children the best they could and they were eager for more information about how they could support their children.

We are excited to return in July to work with MTI to integrate HHI’s trainings into these communities via the Child Survival Project.