Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mama-Mtoto Meeting: The Busia Book Arrives!

Dear all,

Another two weeks have passed and last Thursday we held the fifth Mama-Mtoto meeting (the second meeting Harmke and I attended). It was a nerve-wrecking few days before the meeting as we were trying to get the Busia book printed in time! After several samples with pages missing, crooked, and cut roughly we were anxious to see the state of the 18 books that were supposed to have arrived much earlier than they did – the morning of the meeting. Fortunately, they looked great! Super relieved and excited to show the mamas the story they had recorded in print form, we headed to the meeting. The mamas that came were much more timely this week, giving everyone more time to reflect on their experiences and also more time to admire the final product of the Busia story, The Wonders of Friendship. For those who are curious, the story is about three friends: a hare, a hyena, and a tortoise. The friends decide to plant and harvest groundnuts, but the hare keeps avoiding the workload. After the hyena and tortoise do all the work, the hare tries to get his hands on the final result: the groundnuts. Having anticipated this, the two friends had covered the granary containing the nuts with glue. The hare therefore got stuck as he attempted to break in, and that's where the story ends. The story is fully illustrated and written in four languages: English, Kiswahili, Kiteso, and Kisamia.

Before presenting the mamas with the book, we discussed the extra two weeks they spent with the Mcheshi Goes to School book. None of the mothers tried the clapping game (where the children have to clap when a certain word is read), and most did not do the color game (where the children have to point to a certain color on every page), although some did their own version of this game and others colored. The mothers said that the children loved the wordsearches! They wanted more of them, and also more difficult ones as some of the children said it was too easy.

Finally it was time to present the mamas with The Wonders of Friendship. They were all extremely happy to see them and clapped for us (a clap that should resonate to all those who contributed to the project in one way or another, well done!). For some minutes we just sat and looked at the book – the mamas happily seeing their picture and names on the second page (although only the names and pictures of those mamas who were present at the second meeting in June were in there, which is a bit of a shame. We will change this for the e-book). The plastic covers we had brought from Nairobi were, unfortunately, a bit too big for the books but we might be able to fix it with some tape. Esther read the book in Kisamia to everyone, and the Busia description at the end, only in English. The mamas were smiling throughout. After, all the mamas read the book together in Kiswahili.

The next assignment Esther gave was for the mamas to write a summary of the story in their notebooks. She gave them 10 minutes and the mamas nervously grabbed their pens. Many sneaked a peek into the book for help when Esther was out of the room – we told them that it wasn't a test and everyone laughed. Afterwards, one summary in each language was read out loud (only one mother wrote in English, most wrote in Kiswahili, and a couple in Kisamia). Since none of the mamas wrote in Kiteso, two mamas read part of the Kiteso text from the book.

Next Esther introduced the new activities for the Busia book: retrying the color pointing and clapping games, drawing “what happens next” (or a character from the book if the child is too young to understand), and a new wordsearch. Then Harmke and I had prepared another focus group for our own research project concerning the husband's response to, and interaction with, the Mama-Mtoto project. Finally, the meeting closed with refreshments and socializing.

As for the printing of the storybooks, the status is as follows: the Busia book has already been sent to Elangata Wuas and is currently being printed and sent to Garissa and Lamu (these two sites are not meeting in August because of Ramadan, so they are not in a rush to receive the books). Next is the Lamu book, which is also finished! We are having a sample sent here as soon as possible and then we can hopefully order the batch of books for Busia this week. The Elangata Wuas book is almost done and will be next in line after Lamu. Garissa will be printed last because it still requires some more editing work and we are missing some information from the site. All things considered the project is coming along well!

That's all the updates we have for now. You'll hear more from us in the coming two weeks!


Susan and Harmke

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