Tag: Early Childhood Care and Education

A Community Volunteer in Uganda

Bonny Ajala, pictured in the red  t-shirt, was an HHI trained Peer Educator, for his village of Odoro in northern Uganda. He was enthusiastic about HHI’s lessons on early childhood development and he demonstrated skill and commitment in sharing HHI messages with the parents and caregivers in his village.  He became a popular community leader, spreading HHI’s unique knowledge and skills, supporting parents and young children alike.

ECD in Uganda

Bonny’s HHI lessons were embraced and led to new, positive practices such as encouraging parents to talk to their baby while feeding and giving baby massage. Parents quickly noticed the positive results these practices had on their children and their appreciation for both Bonny and HHI grew.  The community benefited so much that they recommended him to the local nursery school director, asking him to engage Bonny as a mentor of the school teachers who would handle their kindergartners.  The director took up the initiative and employed Bonny to teach HHI lessons, such as ’’ taking care of myself’’, ‘’language development’’, and ‘’ health habits’’ among others.

Now the school director and the entire community see Bonny as a community resource. So, in addition to his job as an HHI Peer Educator for the parents of his village, Bonny serves as a mentor during school hours to cater for needs of the teachers and caregivers who developed trust and confidence in him.

Thank you Bonny!  We are so proud of you, your passion, commitment and intelligence.

*story shared by staff from Medical Teams International, HHI’s partner in Lira, Uganda

Building on Commitment & Love

In the tiny tribal village of Khetrapal, in rural Odisha, India, HHI helps make a dream come true.   Since 2007, our partner NGO, Viswa Yuva Kendra, has been supporting the operation of a small crèche center.  This is a safe space where the community’s young children can stay during the day to while their parents are working in nearby fields.  The crèche center also offers the opportunity for basic teaching of pre-school skills for the children and gives the parents peace in knowing their children are safe and being cared for.


This village is purely tribal, representing one of the lowest castes in India, which still carries with it many limitations, stigma and remains synonymous with poverty .  All of the families of Khetrapa live in only 40 houses.  All the villagers are daily laborers, working in fields and on lands that they will never own. When they go to the field their children are spend all day in the crèche center, which is currently made out of straw, bamboo and a tarp. Every year this center is damaged by monsoon rains and wind.  And every year the villagers repair or rebuild it.  But, during the rainy season, no one can use the center, as the floor turns to mud and a steady stream of rain courses over the area.

Viswa Yuva Kendra, and the villagers wanted to do better and they are willing to work for it.  Seeing what the village was currently using, and their commitment to it, we felt compelled to lend our support.  They proposed to HHI that with a modest amount of funding, the villages parents could buy the basic building materials needed to build a simple, but sturdy building that could offer a safe and protected space for their children.

The construction will start in December 2013 and be finished by the end of January 2014. The villagers will contribute labor to the construction of the center.

Daily activities at the crèche are led by two teachers.  Every day includes prayers, keeping the children clean, teaching basic numbers and counting, singing action songs, playing games, storytelling, and dancing. In total there are 18 children 1 – 3 years old and 10 children 3 – 5 years old, benefiting from this small center every day.

Investing in children in their earliest years is the best investment communities can make, and given that this tiny community has already shown such love and commitment to their children, we are honored to help support their efforts in building a real building!  We cannot wait to see it!


Visiting Edutainers in South Africa

I spent the day today with The Bright Kid Foundation and their Edutainers project in the slums outside of Johannesburg. We’ve met via our shared membership in the Clinton Global Initiative and we share core values of serving vulnerable young children.  Bright Kid Foundation is able to place these Edutainers in “informal settlements” where formal building is not allowed, yet there are thousands of children and their families living in these settlements and they need support for early childhood development and learning  if they are ever to break their inter-generational cycles of poverty.

Edutainers provides the infrastructure, and the community takes charge of painting, caring for and running these centers in their communities. Trained and certified teachers lead the children each day through early learning and stimulating play.  These pop-up preschools serve far more than just the children, they become community hubs for work programs, massive community gardens and create a way for the community to be recognized and therefore supported by the government.  It is a fabulous and sustainable program, its a true inspiration!


HHI has been approached because the communities want more, the parents in the communities want to learn about early childhood development, and what they can do at home to better the lives of their children before preschool. Because of HHI’s success in community trainings, in a variety of challenging settings and diversity of cultures, we were invited to visit and brainstorm ways we might partner.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit today and am looking forward to find ways we can collaborate to serve more children, more families and the community at large.

We are brainstorming ways that we can join forces for the good of all.  H

Here are some photos from the community where this Edutainer is located -


April in Africa

Last year HHI spent April in Paris, where our Founder/Director, presented at UNESCO’s Education for All event.  And while that was absolutely lovely, this year it has been our pleasure to spend April in Africa, specifically in Swaziland with our partners at the Bantwana Initiative.  Together, we are working with the Ministry of Education and Training to create the country’s first formal training program for preschool teachers.

This month 15 officers from the Ministry graduated as Master Trainers, and then together we trained 18 preschool teachers in the new program. It was an exciting week, as we all learned from each other and built a new system of support that will serve hundreds (and later we hope thousands!) of the country’s most vulnerable young children. (We may also gotten to serve some of the cutest!)


Preschool students in Lumbumbo, Swaziland

Our thanks to Bantwana, World Education and the generous funding of the Open Society Institute of South Africa.

Special Delivery

Northern Uganda has been a hot topic lately and we wanted to share a sweet little story about our most recent visit that was full of goodness and good people!

Occasionally, we have the opportunity to do something a little extra in the villages where we work. My last trip to Lira, Uganda was one of those times. Some of HHI’s youngest supporters in Portland, OR gathered up some of their gently used books and sent them with me on my trip. The Odwar Fund, a local, Ugandan-run organization, that helps orphans and vulnerable children gain access to scholastic materials (among many other things!) helped us distribute the donated books to a local early childhood development center in Lira.

Eddy, executive director of The Odwar Fund, hands out the book bags.

Children are delighted with their new books!


Special thanks to Ingrid, Carlisle, Kabir, Jack, Charlie and the students of Emerson School for making this special delivery possible!

See The Odwar Fund to learn more about their work.