Back in November we posted pictures on Facebook of a tea morning we held in Gugulethu. This was the start of our CSI initiative we are running with Susana Kennedy. It was in the pipeline right from the start, when Kate and I were walking on the promenade with 3-month old babies conceptualizing Mammas’ Meeting Place.
Many of us are in the fortunate position of being able to afford a certain lifestyle and commodities that are hard to imagine living without. The internet for example. The high numbers of online baby groups with questions being asked are testament to how popular these are. We have resources at our fingertips; sleep trainers, lactation consultants and library of books at our disposal.
Regardless of your location, moms the world over experience the same feelings, face the same issues and have the same challenges. The support of other moms can go a long way to help. With this in mind, we prioritized reaching out to an area of Cape Town that is unlikely to have heard of Mammas’ Meeting Place via the internet.
With the assistant of a good friend, Susana Kennedy, we connected with the ‘Phakama’, a project she has been working on for some time now in Gugulethu. Phakama is a venue that serves as a crèche, a sewing project, a kitchen that feeds over 100 each day and a lot more. The venue is run by Mabato affectionately known as Mumz by the community, and through her continued dedication she has helped many in her community.
Mumzi welcomed the idea. She felt this was needed but not provided in her community. We agreed to start small and build in numbers in the New Year, so Mumzi, as a trustworthy community figure, contacted 7 new moms.
On Friday 14th November we arrived for the first session expecting to see 7 moms with their babies. Instead the room was packed. 25 moms had arrived with babies ranging from 11 days old to 2 years.
What struck me first was how ‘light’ these moms ‘travelled’. Unlike myself and my mommy friends, there were no strollers, baby carriers or bursting-out-of-the-seams nappy bags. Just them and their little ones.
The session was a mixture of the moms talking to each other and us talking with the moms. It was important to us to get a feel for what these moms actually needed from us in order for these sessions to really be beneficial. Surprisingly the same topics came up from various different people – nutrition, hygiene and how to get dads involved. Susana and I are now researching suitable speakers who are willing to donate their time to helping these ladies.
We talked openly about the money they live on in the first session. Most of the moms get a meager R320 from the government a month, and up to R220 of that can go on nappies. Understandably getting a job was a priority, but then where would their babies go?
We hosted 2 more sessions in 2014 and are kick starting the 2015 sessions with a baby massage class from therapist, Gayle Friedman. Gayle will demonstrate how to massage your baby, which is not only relaxing but a good way of bonding with your child.
The idea is to meet three Friday mornings a month. Most Fridays will just be a get-together and time for moms to connect, and when we can, we will bring in speakers.
Faith, Luke’s part-time nanny, helps co-ordinate the project with Mumzi and the moms. The great news is some of the moms are already texting her asking when we are starting in 2015. The answer is 6th February. If you or anyone you know would like to get involved or help in some way, please don’t hesitate to contact us.