The Covid-19 pandemic has proved the springboard for us to extend our life-changing teaching and reach even more remote communities in sub-Saharan Africa.
Lullaby Africa teaches baby-bonding and infant brain development to communities ravaged by trauma and poverty. When Covid struck, our teaching teams were unable to travel to Africa to support in-country leaders and parenting groups.
We have overcome this restriction by investing in a series of four teaching films. These will be distributed to support existing groups in Kenya and Uganda but will also spread the work into other countries which it would be too costly or dangerous to visit in person.
You can watch a short trailer here.
Helen Howes founded Lullaby Africa following a trip to Kenya in 2010. She says, “We have been encouraged to expand from our bases in Uganda and Kenya and were already looking for ways to do this when the pandemic hit us. With no prospect of sending our teams to Africa, we decided to create a video teaching pack which could be used by our in-country community leaders and by other communities who wanted to create baby-bonding groups.”
The teaching empowers mothers to become more sensitive parents and gives them skills they can pass on to their friends and husbands. This raises their standing in the community and gives them more confidence dealing both with their children and other adults.
Lullaby Africa partnered with educational film specialists Maia Films to develop four short films which cover key aspects of baby bonding – eye contact, speech, touch and imaginative play.
The first set of films has been distributed to Happy Hearts, a charity which will use them in Somalia when the borders reopen. Happy Hearts works with traumatised people, including women who are pregnant and give birth in a country where adoption is illegal, however a baby is conceived.
Films are also on their way to local trainers in four cities in Kenya – Nairobi, Kisumu, Homa Bay and Mombasa. The charity is working with Heal Africa, a teaching hospital in Goma, DRC while further films will be sent to new locations in Rwanda and northern Uganda and to existing groups in Kampala and south western Uganda.
The series and its accompanying teacher’s manual have been produced in English, French and Kiswahili, which gives them wide understanding across sub-Saharan Africa. Subtitled versions are available in Lugandan (for Uganda), Kinyarwanda (Rwanda) and Shona (Zimbabwe).
Lullaby Africa is keen to partner with other charities working in Africa who may already operate in towns and villages where baby bonding could improve community life. The charity is looking to rent the films to UK churches who want to use them as part of their own parenting courses. Similarly, churches may also have links with African communities and charities.
Helen Howes says, “I’d like to thank the team at Maia for all their expertise and help in putting this together. They worked really hard to create the right cultural fit for the look and sound of the film coupled with the complexities of working in a host of African languages. We would love to return in person to see how this goes, and we will when it is safe, but it’s fantastic that we have this tool to empower local people to teach their friends and neighbours, and can help other people despite a pandemic.”