Below is a letter written to a supporter of our Mother to Mother Playgroups which outlines the work:
These playgroups currently operate from 8 local health dispensaries, they fulfill a key role in connecting us to parents of young special needs children. When the mother attends the dispensary for the child’s vaccinations the health worker often becomes aware that the child has an additional need. Typically due to shame this child would be hidden from sight, often for years, meaning that opportunities for any medical intervention are gone. But the health worker can invite the mother to attend the monthly playgroup for children with special needs. This group can then become a peer support network for the mother, plus it also enables us to deliver cost effective medical and nutrition support to these young children when they meet together.
Specifically we have undertaken the following activities:-
Distributing food to playgroup mothers in time of crop failure.
We have funded the distribution of maize to support mothers under particular hardship during times of food shortage to feed their child at home.
Loading on sacks of maize for distribution to the Play groups
Providing bread and morning porridge for the playgroups
Many of the parents walk a long distance to attend the playgroups and this is often having had little or no food at home that morning. Providing them with bread and milky tea adds to the social element of the playgroup, but also provides very essential nutrition.
Funding a Nutritionist to visit the clinics
A high number of our special needs children are malnourished and require food supplements. These are freely available from the local hospital, but the mothers are generally either not aware of this fact, or they do not have the funds for the journey. We have funded a nutritionist to visit each playgroup and assess the children and provide the nutrition supplements as required.
Lifting families economic opportunities through a chicken project
We gave 30 needy families funds to build chicken houses, and once they were constructed we gave them 5 vaccinated chicks, feed and training on how to rear poultry successfully. Regular visits have been made subsequently to support the mothers with any issues they have faced. This intervention has proved positive and this group is now (end 2018) forming a table banking group to support themselves in improving their families livelihood further.
Facilitating Medical Intervention
During the year we became aware of a three year old girl attending a playgroup who required medical intervention for a cleft palate. Her mother was unaware that this could be remediated. We were able to connect her to another NGO acting in this area, and facilitate her to obtain an operation. We have other children going through a similar process.
Pre and post operation.
Providing an environment for peer to peer support
An important function of the playgroups is to provide a good environment for peer to peer support. Through the year we have continued to resource the groups with chairs and educational play equipment. Where possible we have also provided pushchairs and wheelchairs. In addition both mothers and children from all playgroups have been provided with clothes during the year.
We do hope that you will find these interventions to be a worthwhile use of the funds that you gave us. If you have any further queries please don’t hesitate to contact me. Parents are hugely appreciative of your support, in addition to the interventions outlined above they are forming genuine and long lasting friendships with other playgroup parents which is significantly improving their emotional health.
On their behalf we would like to thank you for your support over the last year.