Only two hours drive from Kampala, it was great to be back in nature in Nkokonjeru. That day, a local hair saloon was the space arranged to hold the workshops with urban parents. After covering the mirrors and hair style posters, the room was ready to talk about baby carrying.
Meeting mothers in urban Nkokonjeru
The morning workshop was carried on with mothers living in the urban part of Nkokonjeru. We have seen so far that an invididual’s baby carrying method varies by region and the region’s traditions. Having a mother who had recently moved to Nkokonjeru added on the discussion with a whole new baby carrying method which the other mothers had not tried before.
With the motivation of having a new prototype designed on site, this time the user test session focused on only ‘Tied up’. Two mothers were asked to carry their babies at different ages while the others commented and suggested possible improvements. Better yet, we also used the opportunity to carry one of the babies and put ourselves in place of her mother.
Meeting fathers in urban Nkokonjeru
Urban fathers workshop had a great diversity in occupation; we had a boda boda driver, a carpenter, a builder, a telephone mechanic and farmers among the participants. Since some fathers used to go to work with their babies, a discussion started on why some specific jobs are and why some are not baby carrying friendly. Meanwhile, our Happy Baby doll Mette was there to let fathers demonstrate how they currently carry their babies and how they feel about using ‘Tied up’ as an alternative.
Moving on to the rural part
In rural Nkokonjeru it is very common to see women wearing Gomasi, a traditional clothing in Ugada culture which allows baby carrying! The workshop with rural mothers introduced us to how the cloth is put on, how it is used to carry babies and how it allows breastfeeding easily. Together we discussed about why and where women chose to carry their babies using different methods.
As we got inspired by the influence of baby carrying on the clothing culture, mothers were curious to try on ‘Tied up’ and give feedback. Two mothers put on the prototype: one demonstrated breastfeeding while having her baby in the front position, and another tried carrying firewood on the head with her baby on the back.
Rural fathers meeting
The following hours, fathers living in the rural Nkokonjeru gathered for the workshop. Two of them actually owned and used imported carriers in various occasions. This gave us the chance to discuss about a comparison of ‘Tied up’ with the models they used.
Nkokonjeru home stay
Right near we have been holding the workshops with the rural community, lived a young mother with her baby. During the home stay in Nkokonjeru, we followed the mother and baby and saw that her daily tasks differed from the tasks of farmers we observed in the other regions.
Learning from kids
In most Ugandan families, kids are expected to participate in daily tasks, including taking the responsibility of their younger siblings or relatives. For the final workshop in Uganda, we gathered a group of kids and the babies they took care of to talk about their feelings about baby carrying using hands or a piece of cloth. Then we asked them to think about new ways to carry babies and make drawings of their ideas. By the end of the workshop, we were left with some key facts to think through.
Nkokonjeru feedback meeting
The insights we got during the workshops were sorted in different topics and disseminated in a final meeting held with selected people from each workshop. The feedback meeting helped us confirm their input and find out points we had possibly missed out. This time all the prototypes were demonstrated and discussed along with ‘Tied up.’
During the feedback meeting, there was a discussion about beliefs and myths about ‘Engozi,’ a traditional piece of cloth each baby owns individually to be carried with in some occasions. With a curiosity, we visited a tailor to learn about the specifications of an Engozi and to have one made for Mette, our Happy Baby.