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So the researchers investigated the possibility of incorporating verbal and pictorial healthcare messages into the chitenge, the colorful wrap that is worn by huge numbers of African women.
"But then it struck us that even though chitenge were ubiquitous, not everybody could afford them and we had to do something that was as close as possible to zero cost if the project was to gain traction and be sustainable," said Dr Reid.
"We were at St John Zambia for a workshop talking to women volunteers about their own experience of motherhood. Then they started to sing and we looked at each other and went 'that's it'!"
Earlier, Dr Reid had been to New York, where the famous venue Carnegie Hall is the base for a Lullaby Project, which uses especially composed songs to develop attachment and aid child development. Observing this scheme made him realize the potential of lullabies in Zambia, where it is common for women to sing to their children and as part of church worship.
Now, the project is underway and volunteers in Zambian clinics, after being told what information the Ministry of Health needs to impart, have been creating and performing songs. They can be seen and heard online and researchers will gauge their impact.
The AHRC funding runs until March, but the project could be extended and at the conclusion there will be a symposium in Zambia, and the possibility of spreading the scheme to other African countries.
"And beyond that, one of the really important things we want to do is bring the idea to the global north," said Dr Reid.
"This would bring the baby box discussion full circle," he continued. "The boxes are really expensive. They are a really good idea in a particular context in places like Finland and perhaps the UK that can afford them. But there are other ways of doing things and singing might be a way of achieving a lot more for no cost."
Carnegie Hall in New York has now invited the Life Saving Lullabies team to take part in a two-day workshop in June as part of their review of its own Lullaby Project. There has also been received an invitation from Spanish organization Grandes Oyentes to take part in an online discussion on the impact of music and creative engagement on women's health as they plan to introduce a lullaby project in Spain. Source:
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