Baby Carrying Benefits

During May, Happy Baby activities mainly consisted of Baby Carrying Benefits Meetings with different stakeholders, HB Carrier Making Tailor Trainings, monitoring the usage of Happy Baby Carrier by the ambassador families, and the first Happy Baby Stitchery Launch Event.

The Baby Carrying Benefits Meetings were held with mothers and fathers in each 12 village around Nkokonjeru. Invitations through mobilizers and public announcements brought between 30-50 participants to each meeting. These participants first listened to a general presentation of the project, participated in an open discussion on the experiences of baby carrying, tried on and gave feedback on the Happy Baby carrier, and finally learned the scientifically proven benefits of baby carrying. Besides the meetings held in each village with potential beneficiaries, different stakeholders such as hospital health workers, clinic drug shops, health village leaders, village health team members, elders and mobilizers were met either in the Happy Baby Stitchery or individually to participate in a similar format meeting, in addition, to brainstorm on how to implement Happy Baby in their communities and to take on the responsibility of spreading the knowledge of the benefits of baby carrying.

5 Benefits

For spreading the knowledge easily, Baby Carrying Benefits are grouped in 5 categories:

INTERACTION
Strengthens the attachment between you and your baby, resulting in the growth of an empathetic and secure child. Creates a harmonious and joyful interaction between you and your baby, helping the development of socio- emotional skills.
FAMILY BONDING
Enables fathers to participate actively in early care giving which strengthens your marriage/relationship and expands your baby’s exposure to male caregiving patterns, resulting in a more optimum development.
BREASTFEEDING
Helps you breastfeed comfortably on the go, so you can keep giving your baby the best nutrition and protection from illnesses and diseases.
COMFORT
Enables hands-free care giving of your baby, giving you the freedom to enjoy a joyful and active maternity leave and to contribute to your family’s well-being.
FRONT and BACK
Allows you to carry your newborn baby in the front position and later gives the choice to carry your baby in the front or on the back safely and ergonomically.

When discussing these benefits, an interesting feedback we got during the meetings was on breastfeeding on the go. In Nkokonjeru, it is culturally believed that one should not eat while walking, so some parents commented that if they practiced breastfeeding while walking, they would impose bad behavior to their babies or the babies would choke. Most parents preferred to stop their activity and breastfeed sitting down with the baby, continue once the baby is full.

Having simplified the knowledge to spread easily, these benefits are then brought together in posters and brochures and translated into Luganda. Today, Happy Baby posters are hanging in many village meetings participants’ homes, hospitals, prayer places, small clinics, drug  shops and other various public spaces. Feel free to download the high resolution posters and brochures using the above gallery.

Happy Baby Stitchery Launch

Happy Baby Stitchery Launch from Happy Baby on Vimeo.

The first Happy Baby Stitchery is opened with a launch event, as a big step our pilot program, taking place in Nkokonjeru, Central Uganda! After inviting everyone from the twelve neighbor villages through mobilizers, announcements from local radio and prayer places, the launch event hosted over 300 people. In addition to cutting the ribbon, Happy Baby Ambassadors initiated writing a song on the benefits of this new and comfortable Engozi (meaning baby carrier in Luganda) and performing a dance show with live percussion music.

Happy Baby Stitchery is a demo shop where local tailors are trained to make Happy Baby carriers, and where these carriers are sold in the community. So far we have four manual sewing machines used by four new graduate tailors, who are about to be the new Happy Baby Entrepreneurs. Another function of the stitchery is to host meetings related to baby carrying benefits or relevant trainings by Children in Africa Breastfeeding Support, our partner in Nkokonjeru.

When using high quality cotton fabric and fiber purchased in Kampala, the current sale price of one carrier is 18.000 UGX, which is about $7. In order to test the market, a lower cost version is produced using durable second hand fabric or new carrier orders can be taken with fabric brought by the customers. After getting a clear picture on preferences and the demand of the community, next step is to try out different payment methods, developed together with the families who have trouble affording a carrier. Let the sales begin!

Community Meeting

Community Meeting

Following the advice of the local leaders in Nkokonjeru, we held a presentation followed by an open discussion in the community center. Parents from the twelve villages were invited by mobilizers who spread the word from home to home, local radio, church and mosque announcements. More than 150 parents and babies attended and participated in the meeting where HB was presented by the team, local leaders gave speech, and Happy Baby Ambassadors took the chance to share their experiences. National TV Channels were on site to record the meeting and Happy Baby was on the news the next evening on Bukedde TV! Feel free to watch and share the TV broadcast below!

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.

Time to mobilize!


04-24-healthcenters

Spreading out information about Happy Baby pilot project and knowledge on baby wearing benefits in Nkokonjeru requires a well-structured mobilization with the help of recommended community members. Meetings started with the hospital where doctors and nurses showed a great interest and where Happy Baby is now invited to present the baby carriers and baby wearing benefits posters on immunization days, when parents from both nearby and remote villages come with their babies.

04-24-mobilezersLocalleaders

With the recommendations from the town council, leaders of all 12 villages are invited to hear about Happy Baby and to get permission and support on reaching out to parents in their villages. These leaders are then connected with mobilizers in each village, who are assigned to move from house to house to identify the first Happy Baby Ambassadors – selected families to receive the first Happy Baby Carriers and baby wearing benefits education.

04-24-ambassador

The first Happy Baby Ambassador, identified by old wise women in the community, is the Katongole family, consisting of a mother, a father and two daughters – parents having a variety of occupations including teaching, gardening, cleaning and learning hair dressing.

04-24-first ambassador2

Katongole family is currently followed everyday to monitor the usage of the carrier with both of their kids – at the age of 2 years and 1.5 months. Being a respected and good example family in the community, their photos are taken to be in posters and instruction guides of Happy Baby. As the first Happy Baby Ambassadors, Mr. and Mrs. Katongole use every opportunity to talk about the benefits of baby carrying, while the kids enjoy being bonded with their parents.

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!