Meet our community members - Jennifer
If you have never been to one, it might be difficult to imagine what it is like to live in a rural community in Ghana. To give you a glimpse of what daily life in Humjibre looks like, GHEI introduces you to its community members in our blog series ‘Meet our community members’.
What are the hopes and dreams of a junior high school student? What do first-time mothers struggle with when raising their baby? Who runs the local drinking spot? How do GHEI’s local staff feel about their work? Read it here!
Meet Jennifer, Mother Mentor Program participant – Thursday, July 19th, 2018
Almost three months ago, on April 30th, the twenty-three year old Jennifer gave birth to her son, Kwadwo. The two share a bed at the house where she lives with her parents, her grandmother, and her five siblings.
Jennifer (middle) and relatives sitting in the courtyard in front of their house
In the morning, Jennifer gets up at 6 AM to fetch water at the nearest pump. The pump is only a five minute walk away, but getting water can still take a while, as the line gets quite long early in the morning. Kwadwo is usually still sleeping at this time. If he is awake, Jennifer’s mom is watching over him.
The rest of Jennifer’s morning consists of handwashing her laundry, taking a bucket shower, cooking some oats for breakfast, and bathing her son Kwadwo. “And whenever Kwadwo gets hungry, I breastfeed him”, Jennifer adds.
Baby Kwadwo in Jennifer's arms
In the afternoon, mother and son take a nap. After lunch, Jennifer spends some time playing with Kwadwo. Her husband pops by almost every day to play with his son. He also lives in Humjibre, but in a different neighborhood, called Canada. This neighborhood is located on a hill, and the people of Humjibre perceive it to be slightly cooler there than in the rest of the village. Thus, it was named Canada.
Jennifer receives a lot of support from her mom to take care of Kwadwo. In Ghana, the mother or mother-in-law of the new mother often play a big role in the upbringing of the child. They are considered to have more knowledge on how to raise kids because they already have experience doing so. The mother or mother-in-law are sometimes more involved in the child’s life than the child’s father.
Raising a newborn can be stressful for first-time mothers, but Jennifer can count on the support and advise of Lilian, one of GHEI’s Mother Mentors. When she was ten weeks pregnant, Jennifer joined the Mother Mentor program.
“I heard about the program on the morning announcements, and I knew another mother who was already participating. I saw the support she got from GHEI and when I got pregnant, I decided to enroll as well”.
Mother Mentor Lilian pays Jennifer a visit every two weeks to discuss a variety of topics related to the well-being and development of the child, such as hygienic practices to prevent infections, the ins and outs of breastfeeding, the importance of vaccines, and how to prevent and treat diarrhea.
Jennifer explains: “During my meetings with Lilian, she told me about family planning. I already knew a bit about it, but she provided me with more in-depth information and emphasized the importance of it.”
After her sister has come back from the market with groceries and her mother has prepared dinner (Jennifer’s favorite is fufu with light soup), she puts Kwadwo to bed. She goes to bed not much later, around eight o’clock. Jennifer has to get up about four times a night to feed her baby boy.
Before she got pregnant with Kwadwo, Jennifer worked in the local guesthouse. Now, her goal is to work hard and to complete nursing training. And what are her hopes and dreams for Kwadwo? “I am praying that he grows up to be a humble and educated person”.
Jennifer and her son Kwadwo
Jennifer is one of the twenty-eight participants in the Mother Mentor Progam. GHEI’s Mother Mentor Program pairs first-time pregnant women with “mother mentors” who provide ongoing education and support. These mentors are trusted mothers from the community who are trained by GHEI in all aspects of pregnancy, delivery, newborn care, and cognitive development.
The mentors conduct home visits and facilitate group sessions with participants and their families throughout the pregnancy and until the child is two years old. Through these visits, the mentors educate the mothers and families on best practices to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.