By: Zanele Mokolutlo (Ububele Home Visitor)
The Ububele Mother-Baby Home Visiting Project is an intervention offered in Alexandra Township. This project is focused on strengthening the attachment and relationship between pregnant women and their babies. As a home visitor I visit mothers who are pregnant or have recently given birth. I offer emotional support, mark positive interactions between the mother and baby, and reflect on mothers capacities to think about their babies as unique little people. I have now been a home visitor for two years and this work has come with its own challenges and rewards. It is important to reflect on these challenges and benefits and how they have impacted on both me, and the mothers that I visit.
Being an Alexandra community member:
I was born and bred in Alexandra and have always wanted to work within my community. This project was an opportunity for me to fulfill that dream and it also opened my eyes to what I always thought was just a normal life. Through the project I became aware that the people that have always been my neighbors live in very dire conditions. I also came across numerous teen moms, some pregnant with a second or third child. These were both difficult social situations that I struggled to face.
Entering into a mother’s home:
The most challenging part of this work is that I know and believe in the value of this work. This for me is life changing, but at the same time I can’t ignore that I am expecting a mom to make space for me in her mind on an empty stomach and while she is concerned about getting nappies and food for her other children. It is a challenge to persuade a mom to let you into their life, when she feels she’s not in a space to receive any knowledge because she needs material things at that moment.
Offering support not advice:
Another challenge that I have come across is when I have to hold back on giving advice and expressing feelings of anger. As a mother myself, it is hard to sit back and watch mothers that I visit make decisions about their babies without enough thoughtfulness about their feelings and actions. In these emotional connections with mothers and their babies, it can sometimes become difficult to be supportive without wanting to offer advice.
Feeling valued and welcome:
There have been times when I have witnessed life changing positive decisions that mothers have made about how they parent their children. Assisting a mother to understanding themselves in this new role as mother and that they are the most important people to their babies is a very rewarding experience.
Every so often I become a very valuable person to a mother that I am visiting. Some of these mothers don’t have their own mothers around or they don’t have older sisters. They take up that opportunity and use me in that space as their pillar of strength.
If you would like more information about the Ububele Home-Visiting Project please contact Ububele on 011 786 5085, or visit our website at www.ububele.org.