This is the second update from Monja about the Kliptown Project. You can read the first one here
Second Child’Space class A group of 5 mothers and babies (ages 2-6months) were scheduled for 10am Saturday March 17th in Kliptown. It was pouring with rain on Saturday and cold. Whilst I was driving to Kliptown I was wondering how many mothers will turn up with their babies in this bad weather condition. I arrived at the community centre at 9.30am and started setting up the space with pillows and blankets. I also brought some rattles with me to use during the class. Precious -the Nursery school teacher in Kliptown who organised the group of mothers- turned up at 10am and said that she is not sure how many mothers will come due to the weather conditions. When it rains so hard some of the homes (Shacks) in the township are flooded and while everything is muddy and wet, the mothers will not bring their babies. I was happy to wait as I had no other plans scheduled for later. Whilst I was waiting I got to connect with Bob Nameng (Director of Kliptown Youth) as well as some of the organisers at the community centre.
Mother Nombali and 2- month old baby boy Sipho turned up at 10.45am. Nombali and her baby was in the first Child’Space class last month. I decided to give an individual session for the two of them.
Sipho was sleeping when they arrived, I used this time to talk to Nombali. I asked her questions about how her baby is doing and what she is noticing around his development and if she had any questions for me. She was one of the mothers in the pervious class that was very shy and did not want to make eye contact whilst talking. I think being on her own this time made a difference as she was looking at me smiling and said; I notice when I tap and squeeze (hands-on techniques I taught in first class) that Sipho starts to look at me and it is as if he is recognizing me. She said she really gets the sense that he is starting to recognize who the different people in his surrounding are. I acknowledged her feedback and complimented her on her impressive observation of Sipho. I took a bit of time speaking to her about how through touch she is communicating with her baby’s brain by sending messages from the muscles, joints and bones through to the nervous system which gives him a sense of himself. I then demonstrated the tapping and squeezing again on her arm and on her leg. I showed her how she could then also begin to bend and extend his leg towards his belly, bend and extend his ankle and foot. She described feeling lighter after the touching and I told her this is exactly what her little boy is feeling when she touches him.
Sipho woke up and I could engage with him, we made eye contact and I started tapping and squeezing his chest. I could feel that his chest was tight and Nombali commented on his breathing. She asked if I could hear the “wheezing” sound in his breath. She said it is coming from his nose that seems to be blocked. For me his chest felt very tight, his little hands and arms were also very tight and his legs did not bend so easily into his chest. I worked on his chest, arms, feet, ankles and legs and could feel how they got softer. I asked Nombali if she puts him on his belly and she said yes. I asked her to show me how she puts him on his belly. She grabbed him very quickly under his arms and turned him over on his belly. I took the time to explain to her how the transition from back to belly (slowly) is important as it will teach him later how to roll by himself. I first showed her how to pick him up from turning him on to his side with one hand in front and the other supporting his back and head.
She smiled at me and said that the way I showed her looks much better and when she tried it she said it felt better too. I then let her pick Sipho up whilst I demonstrated with my doll, she could follow the process. I then showed her how she can turn him on his side before letting him roll on his belly. When he rolled over on his belly his head did not lift much and his arms were very straight, one was up behind him and the other out to the side but straight. Through some squeezing his arms were able to bend but he really did not like being on his belly. The transition from his belly to his side was also not very smooth, his arms and shoulders and chest stiffened as I rolled him on his side and then his back. When he was on his back I took one of the rattles and he seemed to be very curious and engaged looking at it. He did not reach for it but was following the rattle with his eyes as I moved it left and right. There was not much turning in his head and neck, mostly only his eyes. He smiled at me when I started tapping the rattle on his chest and arms. He was very quiet during the session accept for the moment when he was on his belly. Nombali asked me why I move the rattle left and right and I explained to her that it helps him to focus and is good for the tracking of the eyes. The noise of the rattle also helps to stimulate the tracking.
Nombali then asked me if the colour is important. I told her that the rattle does not have to be a specific colour. Normally bright colours are more stimulating and might keep his attention for longer. I thought this was a good moment to end the class. I asked Nombali if she still had questions and she said she didn’t have but that she learnt a lot. I thanked Sipho for letting me work with him and his mother for bringing him regardless of the bad weather conditions. As I walked away to put the rattle and my doll away, I looked over my shoulder towards Sipho, he turned his head and looked at me. Almost as if he was saying; ‘Hey where are you going?’ I will have the 3rd Kliptown class April 14th before coming to Amsterdam for the 2nd segment of training.
A special Thank you to Ilan Ossendryver ( Photographer in support of my project) for taking the beautiful photos.