Tag: Training

HHI’s India Fan Club hosts HHI in Bangalore

- Contributed by: Nishant Vatsal, IFC President

HHI’s India Fan Club was born almost two years ago, from the enthusiasm of a few, it has grown to now become a supportive group to HHI’s core work and mission.

Somewhat spontaneously, the IFC got put into action by HHI and was asked to organize and host HHI’s first ever training in our home city of Bangalore.  From day one of July, the India Fan Club (IFC) commenced reaching out to a matching set of adoption agencies and orphanages in the city. Next thing we know is that our proposal was accepted by Vathsalya Charitable Trust – the best match possible!

Trust me hosting the event was as easy as it sounds, with merely a few exceptional events, which proved to be the ultimate brick walls for IFC, seemed to demand response to questions like, “how badly we wanted to get a breakthrough; to what extent were we willing to persist and persevere to make this event possible?” – and we believe that we did answer the questions courageously, with a lot of enthusiasm and precision at the same time.

We had a dream and we protected it to realization. And we are really very happy that we could.

HHI’s two-day, free training on early childhood development (ECD), kick started on July 21st with 20 foster moms at Vathsalya Charitable Trust with an introduction session and a note of thanks from the President of IFC. It went all day, with breaks for light refreshments and a lunch break. Folks from IFC with help from administrators at Vathsalya Charitable Trust closely monitored the training site to make sure everything was in place.

Later in the afternoon, Laura (an immensely great personality / founder of HHI) and Florence (a very accomplished professional / HHI’s Program & Grants Manager) arrived in Bangalore.  Laura was driven to the training site by Nishant (President of HHI IFC / a mechanical engineer turned IT professional), where she met and thanked everyone. The story of HHI and Vathsalya were explained and appreciations exchanged, resulting in a new amity between HHI and Vathsalya Charitable Trust, Bangalore.

The same schedule was modeled on day two except that we finished an hour sooner for it was a Saturday and mommies had requested for it. Moreover, we also had the graduation ceremony in the cue for the day. Can’t deny, in Bangalore we take our weekends a little too seriously!!

On day two, the excited foster moms along with Laura, Florence, folks from IFC and Vathsalya Charitable were all in attendance. As the president of IFC, I was present on both days of the training actively observing. Personally, I greatly appreciate the interactive nature of the ECD educational programme, which really dwarfed the requirement of the understanding of the language of instruction, which was a bit complicated by the use of multiple langauges.

Of all the modules I was able to attend, I think I got it all. I am through and I have a feeling, my future wife is certainly going to be proud of me when I will share my HHI’s mind blowing knowledge of ECD with her! Well! ..sorry to be so dramatic!

Two days, 8 modules, 18 HHI certified mommies, 700 photographs, a ton of goose bumping feedback, several new friendships and lot of love in the air later, HHI’s first ever early childhood development (ECD) educational training programme in the city of Bangalore concluded.

Did I tell you what the average number of kids that the participants at HHI’s Bangalore training had fostered so far? Well! Its 24! The lowest number of kids fostered being 11 and highest, a whooping 44. And the average number of years since these mommies have been fostering the kids was 9.16.

Looking at these data points, as I said at the outset, Vathsalya Charitable Trust was undoubtedly the best match possible as a recipient of HHI’s training!

And the feedbacks that goose bumped all of us at HHI were these –

“Despite fostering so many children for so long, there are things we learnt in this training, we never knew. We now feel that we simply didn’t know nothing”. (Translated from Kannada and Tamil)

Another foster mom said, “ …the foster moms will now be able to give their children the best care possible”. (Not translated)

Also, we were unanimously told by the participants that that two of the most appealing elements of the HHI training were the baby massage techniques and the cogency, incisiveness and  lucidity rounded by brilliance in our India lead trainer Sujatha’s conduct.

Goes without saying, it was great time and huge honor for the IFC.

Thank you Laura for giving us this opportunity and all that you have done for us and the world!

We are proud of you!

Best regards,

Nishant Vatsal

President | HHI India Fan Club

India Fan Club of the Hands To Hearts International (HHI) is a tiny urban support group of seven members (mostly IT professionals), based in Bengaluru, engaged in the exceptional task of spreading the much needed awareness in the country about the great contribution that HHI is making in India and other challenging regions across the world.An eminent city doctor and an established musician cum fashion expert – who was also a writer at Rolling Stones magazine, India between 2007 and 2008 – are the pro bono advisors of the club.

P.S: On Sunday, July, 22nd, Laura hosted a celebratory dinner for the IFC at a famous Indian restaurant in Bangalore.

Please follow the following links for the photos of HHI’s July event in India:


HHI page on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/HandsToHearts

HHI IFC page on Linked In:


Sujatha shares her HHI testimony


“I am blessed that I was trained by HHI as I gained more knowledge about care giving for babies. I don’t see this as a work rather I take it as a challenge and a glorious opportunity given to me to bring up a better tomorrow in every child’s life. Feeling proud to be a part of HHI’s global team.

I strongly felt that the reason for HHI programme’s success with small budget are the best co-ordination of grass roots level beneficiaries (i.e. mothers) and HHI’s highly professionalized training modules.”

-Sujatha, HHI’s Master Trainer in Tamil Nadu, India, leads HHI mommy trainings every month. She has also been our lead trainer since day one when HHI began our work at the orphanage run by Madras Social Service Guild (MASOS) in Chennai. Sujatha has also trained all of our other HHI trainers, around India and she worked in Uganda to launch our project there.

Thank you, Sujatha, for your kind words and even more for your love and dedication to HHI and all of the mommies, daddies, caregivers and babies that you help bring HHI’s message to!


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.

Daddies Rising!

For the last several weeks, I have been traveling around India, visiting hundreds of HHI trainees and trainers. It has been an exciting, heartening adventure to be sure! Every time I do this, I notice a kind of theme that is going on under the current of our work. This time I was delighted to find that the theme is Daddy Power!

In south India, I met with about 100 mothers and grandmothers who had taken HHI’s training in the last year and what I heard loud and clear was how interested their husbands, the fathers, were in learning about their children. While it is common that HHI mommies go on to train other mommies in their lessons of nutrition, hygiene, baby massage and the like, I had not specifically heard before that they were teaching their husbands these lessons. This time, it is practically all I heard!

In India, as in many old and very traditional cultures, the father’s main role has been to care for the family financially, rarely taking direct action in the day-to-day care of the children. I think this is a lost opportunity for the men to get the joy their full serving of joy and love out of being a dad. But, after HHI comes through a village, reports are the mommies return home and straight away begin to teach the daddies, and likely they make more space for them to step in and claim some of the responsibilities and the joy that comes with them!

Mothers reported that now their husbands are giving baths, feeding their infants, taking them out the markets, telling them stories or singing them to sleep, giving baby massage and a few women even bragged that their husbands were washing the nappies! One mother beamed with pride as she told me that her husband “takes better care of our baby” than she does!

In speaking with some of the fathers, they have requested to have their own HHI Daddy Trainings. We think this is a grand idea!

Power to the Daddies!