The children at the primary school where one of the trustees, Alison Grove, works are learning about charities, so she was asked to talk to the classes about NICHE International.
The children are aged between 4 and 12 – one composite class is spread across this whole age range – so there were different levels of understanding about the work we do.
We used coloured blocks to represent babies. With the help of volunteers – wearing our NICHE tee shirts – we counted out how many babies might be cared for if NICHE volunteers spent their visit working in hospitals.
And then how many if they trained local health care workers in the skills they were using so that the work could go on all year round. And finally, how many more babies might survive in good health if the local doctors and nurses learned how to train their co-workers … and so on. That made a lot of blocks.
We looked at ways to look after newborn babies:
Helping them to breathe with a bag valve mask. There were lots of ideas of how to use the one I showed the children, but we soon realised that we would all need training – even the teachers – if we were to save the life of a newborn baby who wasn’t breathing.
Keeping them warm. The children learned that babies must be kept warm even in hot countries. There were lots of suggestions about how to do this, but no-one could guess the amazing piece of equipment I held behind my back….. a knitted hat!
Skin to skin contact. We borrowed baby dolls and pieces of fabric from the nursery and the children helped each other to tie the ‘babies’ on securely.
We talked about the different ways people are supporting NICHE – the course tutors, the donors and fund raisers, the work behind the scenes in the UK as well as in the countries we visit.
And there were lots of questions, such as:
How do you set up a charity?
How long does it take to get to Africa?
Why are the babies sick?
Do lions go to hospital?
The children were shocked to learn that newborn babies die so often in poorly resourced areas of the world. Many have baby brothers and sisters of their own and began to understand now how lucky they are to live in Scotland where there are enough well trained health care workers to look after sick babies.