After a week and a half of travelling, and of course, coordinating the printing of the Mama-Mtoto books from a different location, I have been back in Busia for a couple of days! Susan flew back to Holland last Thursday, and she will be starting the introducation to her masters program tomorrow.
This past Thursday we had our seventh Mama-Mtoto meeting, with the newest storybook created by the mamas in Elangata Wuas. But before we discussed the new book, the mamas were excited to share their experiences with the Lamu book, the White Spot. Most of the children drew one of the scenes depicted in the book, and all the children were curious about the snake going into the stomach of the lead character. Maria was afraid that this part of the story would be too scary for the children, but none of the mothers mentioned their kids being afraid. However, the children did ask why the stars were red and green, “they are supposed to be white!”, as one of the mothers remembered her children saying.
Related to the cultural exchange aspect of the project, the kids did indeed ask their mothers why the people in Lamu dressed so differently and lived in different houses. “So why are the mothers covered in veils”, asked one of the children, pointing at the picture in the Lamu book of the participating mothers. “Why does Busia have so many languages?”, asked another child when she noticed that the Lamu book was translated into 2 (compared to Busia's 4). Since none of the mothers had ever been to Lamu, it was an exciting experience for them and their kids to get a small look into the differences and similarities between Busia and Lamu. Some of the mamas mentioned that they didn't imagine this was also in Kenya, it was so different!
After discussing the Lamu book, we moved on to the Elangata Wuas book: “Entito oo Ntoyie and Children in a Bush”. In the book, a young Maasai mother gives birth to a son and daughter one day, while she was walking through the forest. The mother would collect milk for the family with a white calabash, and sing to her children when it was safe for them to come out and drink the milk. When ogres visiting the villages heard the mother sing to her children, they planned to sing as well, to be able to eat the children. However, their voices were too deep and the children didn't fall for the singing. To be able to sing like the mother, the ogres visited a diviner, who adviced them not to eat insects for two weeks. In the end the children come out of the boma, get attacked by the ogres but manage to escape. When their mother returns, the children initially do not come out of the boma, but they realize it is their mother singing and they tell her everything. From that moment on, the children are very careful when leaving the boma.
The mothers really liked the Elangata Wuas story, but they did think it was a bit too short. Therefore, the mothers and their children will create a different ending to the story, as next meeting's activity! What will be even more fun, is that the mothers are bringing their children to the next meeting, so we can see the interaction between the mothers and their kids. Moreover, we asked the mothers to have their children prepare a short play relating to the Elangata Wuas story, so I'm very curious to see what the kids come up with!
In the meantime I will be working on promotional material for the Mama-Mtoto project and finalizing the results of the research Susan and I conducted on the recruitment, effectiveness and sustainability of the program. Moreover, Maria has expressed great interest in further fundraising for the new library, so I will assist her in her pursuits as much as possible!