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!