Our first two weeks in Busia are almost over, time is moving fast! Last week Thursday we were at the 4th Mama-Mtoto meeting, and it was great to finally meet all the mothers and see their enthusiasm for the project!
For those of you that don't know what Mama-Mtoto is, I'll just give a short introduction. The Mama-Mtoto project is a parent-child literacy project which aims at teaching mothers how to read storybooks to their children, encourage cultural exchanges between the different sites at which the project is being held and publish a local story from each site as told by the mamas. The first phase of the project has already been completed, namely the recruitment of the mamas and the story telling. We are currently still in the printing phase of the Busia book and the editing phase of the Lamu, Garissa and Elangata Wuas book.
Our first Mama-Mtoto meeting (and the mamas' 4th) was dedicated to the second in the series of books the mamas will be reading, Mcheshi Goes To School. Starting an hour and a half later than planned, the mothers were super enthusiastic once they we're all present in the library! We went around the group and each individual mama told us the experiences she had reading the book to her children and which activities she managed to do. The children loved drawing and some did a word game in which they had to match the letters of the alphabet to words in the book. Most of the kids liked the previous book, The Matatu Song, better than the Mcheshi book, but they still loved being read to nonetheless. All the mothers agreed that they couldn't read the book to their kids often enough, and they wish they had more time in a day to be able to teach their kids more through the books.
After discussing the mamas' experiences with Mcheshi Goes To School, Esther explained the new activities that were planned for the reading for the next meeting. Since the Busia book is not printed yet, we had to move up some of the activities. Susan created a Wordsearch for the children and we came up with some other games the mothers could play with their kids, relating to the Mcheshi book. The mothers were a bit dissapointed that the Busia book wasn't ready, but they were happy with the new activities.
We both really enjoyed the meeting, since the mothers were so eager to learn and full of pride because of the progress their children had made. One mother told us that her daughter's teacher had noticed the girl was more active in class and seemed to have progressed in 4 short weeks! However, the mamas also noticed that their neighbors and other mothers in their social circle wanted to join in on the project, and they were dissapointed to tell them the program was full. However, they told their friends that hopefully the project will run again next year and then more mamas and their watoto could enjoy the benefits of Mama-Mtoto!
After all the Mama-Mtoto excitement, Susan and I have been spending most of our time on cataloging all the books in the library. Esther previously had a file with all the books, but it was accidentally deleted and she hasn't had the time to redo it by herself, since Ednah has been on leave. We've finished most of the adult book section, only a small cupboard remains, and then it's on to the children's section! Besides Mama-Mtoto and cataloging, Susan and I want to reinstate the Monday reading tents, during which we will help Esther promote the library on Busia's main road, with a collection of books that people can browse through! We have lots more projects in the making, but so far we've been too busy to operationalize them. Hopefully, we'll have more time once the cataloging is done!
Harmke and Susan