I get it, I am a complete cliche but I’m sure its no surprise to anyone that I’m pretty happy playing with the kiddos and holding a baby or two when I get the chance. It’s especially wonderful because I get to give them back to their mommas at the end of the day. Perfect!!
I have been a little surprised though at how willing the moms are to hand me their kid after knowing me for a whole minute and a half. It just wouldn’t happen in Canada (although I always wish it would)! From football tournaments, interviews to workshops, I seem to find myself surrounded by a group of children and often have a little one in my arms. The CDF driver thinks it’s hilarious and loves to document my shenanigans with unflattering photos – thanks Leonard!
But let’s think about this a little more. Imagine if you had to do all of the work for the day including difficult tasks such as – carrying buckets of water on your head from the river to home, doing laundry by hand for your whole family, cooking multiple meals on a single charcoal stove and just for fun let’s throw an income generating activity like selling bananas in to the mix – all with a baby on your back!?! You would trust the strange muzungu lady who wants to hold your baby too. You just need a break!
This is where I have found my place at CDF. One of the projects CDF does in Tarime are income generating workshops with young girls and women who had to drop out of school and in many cases were married when they were very young (think 14). The trainings cover skills like soapmaking and battique (fancy tye dye). Many of the young women who attend these workshops have small children and as you can imagine, it is very difficult to learn a new task when your baby is demanding your attention. This is where holding the babies is actually kind of important – I don’t speak swahili, I can’t make soap, and no one wants me to teach battique! One thing I can do though is take a kid for a few minutes and comfort/scare them with my weird english songs and stories. Oftentimes, it’s the little things that count and if holding someones baby can give them a few minutes to grab their water or learn how to make soap – well, sign me up!