The sessions which were officially dubbed Playful Parenting Programme was initiated by ChildFund The Gambia, in partnership with the World Bank and NaNA, to train caregivers to enhance and strengthen their capacity in child caring and nurturing, child nutrition, cleanliness in child handling, play toys creation with easily accessible local materials and managing physically or mentally challenged children and related matters.
The programme was held in series in villages such as Jailan, Kerr Janko, Ceesay Kunda, Kerr Jebel, Buduk and a set of other villages, and the final phase was held from Tuesday to Thursday (3 days). Participants and beneficiaries took the opportunity to express what they felt about and to thank the ChildFund and stakeholders.
Speaking to The Point, Jonsaba Dibba Sy, a participant from Jailan village, said: "The programme is very important. We learned and benefitted a lot. There is a lot that I didn't know and understand, but since the initiation of this parenting programme, we understand many things. Our capacity on child-handling is greatly enhanced.
"First of all, we learned about the relation between the children and their parents and how to interact. In our society, we thought that the only thing that should be between a child and his parent is full respect from the child," she added.
She indicated that this programme has changed that mindset of full respect between parents or caregivers and children, as they have learned that there ought to be interaction and mutuality, spending time together and the like.
Ma Khaddi Sillah, also a participant, expressed the similar sentiments. "This programme has been very crucial. In those days any wrong that a child does, what comes next is beating. But we have learned that beatings are not all that which matters in our relations with our children."
The programme facilitator for Jailan village, Kawsu Kanteh, related about less challenges during the process, adding that participants were very eager to learn and change their mindsets. He said he has seen drastic change as he regularly inspects and observes in the village, adding that negative attitude such as child beating and harassing has greatly reduced.
Isamaila Tambedou, a male caregiver also reiterated that these parenting sessions by ChildFund have led to change of attitude in homes and within families, adding that a lot of positive adjustments have been reached between them and their children.
He thanked ChildFund for the initiative and expressed optimistism for the recurrence of such programmes in their communities.
Speaking exclusively to The Point, one of the supervisors, Alieu Kinteh, explained that it would be very good if they utilise what they have been trained on. He narrated that "it will develop the minds of their children in a very positive way."
Dozens of others including the alkalo of the community of Ceesay Kunda, Ahmadou Ceesay, spoke on the same lines, thanking the ChildFund The Gambia for the important training offered to caregivers.
The alkalo even expressed their openness to welcome the extension of the parenting programme if necessary.