Stimulating the brain through love
Find out how Ethiopian parents are deepening connections with their children
By Maggie Zeng
new business development & grants manager, CCFC
Nelson Mandela once said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” and I learned how right the former South African President was during a recent visit to Ethiopia.
Resources for supporting early child development (ECD) in countries such as Ethiopia are scarce, and the low literacy of parents compounds the problem, which is why innovation is essential for teaching parents how to stimulate their children’s development. That’s where Learning Through Play comes in. The cost-effective methodology Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) has adapted supports parents and teachers in learning to care for children, thanks to donors and the Canadian government.
I recently visited a Learning Through Play pilot project, which educates parents about the importance of interacting with their children through play. I was impressed by parents who eagerly shared stories about how the training changed their lives. Instead of hitting or ignoring their children, they’re now connecting and playing with them, learning how to parent with care and love.
Leeneme told me how men used to consider it a woman’s responsibility to care for children and do housework. After the training, the men were helping care for children, playing with them and sharing chores. The men’s feedback was equally interesting. Woyesa told me how his learnings improved his relationship with his wife. Now he plays with his children and helps feed them, which he never did before. Another couple talked about how they came together after the training, with the father eventually developing a special affection for the child he is now helping raise.
The men repeatedly explained how the training changed their attitude towards their wives and children — some never having held their little ones before the project. Now, they are building family bonds; some are even making toys for their kids.
More resources are needed, and more work needs to be done to support children in the region as families struggle through a devastating drought. Many communities can no longer afford to pay local teachers at schools, but there is hope: CCFC is funding a project to send these educators back to work. With it, children in these communities will have the opportunity to grow, laugh, learn and play.