Author Archives: kubrasaygin

Trip to Kiryandongo

IMG_1883

In collaboration with Real Medicine Foundation, last week Happy Baby has been on a trip to  Panyadoli Vocational Technical Institute in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement in Bweyale, Uganda. This camp is a UNHCR managed refugee settlement that provides shelter, land and support for more than 25,000, comprised of Ugandan IDPs and refugees from Kenya, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Sudan.

The program consisted of training twelve tailors, five Ugandan, one Kenyan, four Sudanese, and two tailoring teachers to become Happy Baby Entrepreneurs in their community. The tailors selected to participate in the training have been funded by Real Medicine Foundation to open their businesses in Bweyale Town. During the training they learned to make ergonomic carriers, practice how to instruct parents to wear the carrier, understand the design aspects and finally participate in marketing the baby carrier and its benefits to become the entrepreneurs of Happy Baby. The first carrier is always considered as a trial for the tailor to keep and take as an example when making the next carriers. Due to lack of machines and experience, the tailors could barely finish their first carrier by the end of the four days training, so we asked them to complete their second carrier before selling to their community.

The selected tailors showed a great entrepreneurial attitude – one could understand why they were selected to be given funds to start their businesses. On our last day in Kiryandongo, we completed the training in the morning and in the evening we attended the Saturday market with baby carriers for a couple of hours. This was where the magic happened; those young tailors all of a sudden turned into baby carrying ambassadors, talking to the crowd about why they should carry their babies, assisting mothers and fathers to try on the carriers.  Every tailor found a model parent and baby for themselves to walk around the market wearing their carriers. We sold a carrier within 10 minutes to a father who had a 3 year old daughter!

While our main focus was on the intensive training, we could also hold two community meetings, one in the Bweyale Town (the nearest town where all tailors come for work) and another one in the Kirandongo Refugee Settlement (where most tailors live), and a stakeholder meeting in Kiryandongo Hospital. Since the community was new to the project, we held the meetings in three phases: having an open discussion on current baby carrying methods; trying on the Happy Baby Carrier; then watching our movies on our design process and pilot program in Nkokonjeru. During the movie screening phase in the hospital, we invited all the waiting patients to the meeting room, where we spontaneously presented the carrier and introduced to the project to a large group.

Overall with the training, we hope Happy Baby can create a positive impact on the Kiryandongo and Bweyale Communities through the representative tailors. We thank to Real Medicine Foundation for the collaboration, the Bweyale and Kiryandongo local leaders, the community and the hard working twelve tailors!

Happy Baby Ambassadors

ambassadors1Happy Baby Ambassadors are selected families from each village in Nkokonjeru to receive a Happy Baby carrier together with the first Baby Carrying Benefits training. Their role in the process includes using the carrier in long term during their daily activities, giving us feedback on possible improvements, spreading the knowledge of benefits of baby carrying in their village and allowing us to monitor the impact of Happy Baby in their lives.

ambassadors2Ambassadors are selected by the local leaders and the mobilizers of the 12 villages in Nkokonjeru. Some are among the role model families in their communities, where fathers are supportive to the children’s’ development, while some are mothers who take on the responsibility of the household.

ambassadors3

After the general education meeting, distribution of the carriers took place in the individuals’ homes in order to include the fathers as much as possible. Likewise, we were able reach most of the fathers who did not attend the initial meeting; and we practiced using the carrier together with mothers and fathers to make sure every parent learned how to put on the Happy Baby Carrier.

ambassadors4

Ambassador Babies vary in age and size, including infants in their 3rd weeks to toddlers in their 2nd years, some with normal and others with low birth weights. As families agreed to take on the responsibility of using Happy Baby carrier, we could not wait to monitor the usage and its impact.

Nkokonjeru here we come

NkokonjeruAfter hectic days of packing, the design team is off to Uganda to collaborate with Josephine Nalugo, Children in Africa Breastfeeding Support, and kick off the pilot phase of Happy Baby in Nkokonjeru!

The pilot phase of Happy Baby Project starts with opening a demo stitchery in Nkokonjeru Town Council where tailors will be trained to make and sell baby carriers, engaging different roles in the community – such as local authorities, religious leaders, midwives & health care clinic officers, wise elder women&men – to spread the knowledge of benefits of baby carrying and distributing carriers to selected families who will be the first Happy Baby Ambassadors.

5 Benefits

Nkokonjeru is a town in the Buiwe District of Central Uganda, where both rural and urban life can be experienced. Being Josephine’s home town and Children in Africa Breastfeeding Support’s main operation area, the site allows us to access its leaders which is the key to succeed in creating ownership of the project in the community. We started with meeting the Community Development Officer Acting Clerk, Town Council Accountant, Mayor and Women Councelor to give information about Happy Baby and to get their permission and involvement to operate in Nkokonjeru. Following their suggestions, we scheduled a presentation of Happy Baby in the Community Center where everyone in the neighbor 12 villages will be invited through mobilizers and radio announcements.

5 Benefits

Engaging the leaders continued with meeting old wise women in the community, who usually consult young mothers in villages during their pregnancy and motherhood. With their feedback on how to communicate the advantages of Happy Baby Carrying, which we have boiled down to 5 main benefits, we learned the necessity of translating them to Luganda. Thanks to the network of IBFAN Uganda, we could reach the right person for this task, an experienced midwife and national translator who could fully understand the content.

Preperations

Meanwhile, we visited our future workspace where we will set up the demo Happy Baby Stitchery, make and sell baby carriers, train neighbor village tailors to become Happy Baby Entrepreneurs and give baby wearing benefits education to different community members. The sewing machines are already bought and assembled!

Babies (2010)

Babies (2010) by Thomas Balmès is a fun to watch French documentary about babies showing a different perspective to the lives of babies through their first year in the world. Four babies in the movie are from different cultures: Two of them are from rural areas; Ponijo from Namibia and Bayar from Mongolia, and other two are from urban areas; Mari from Tokyo and Hattie from San Francisco. The movie definitely succeeds in showing how alike babies are, no matter the conditions they live in.

Whether you have a baby or not, we highly recommend you to watch the movie, a smile on your face is guaranteed!