A few months ago, I was contacted by an Associate Press reporter based in the Washington, D.C. area. She had found an article I had written warning about the concerns associated with using the Infantino SlingRider™, and she wanted to know more. We talked on the phone a few times, she wrote an article, and within just about two weeks time, the CPSC called for the recall of the Infantino SlingRider™, as well as another similarly styled baby carrier.
Within just minutes of the AP article being released, and for weeks thereafter, our website was slammed by literally thousands of hits and my business email inbox was inundated by hundreds of emails, most from concerned parents, wanting to know if the baby carrier they were using with their little one was safe, many from potential customers, and a few more unique emails. It was one of these more “unique” emails that immediately caught my eye, and what I want to talk to you about now.
This particular email was from a woman named Pat Havener, a nurse, who is working with a group called Cristo Salva that serves people in rural Honduran villages. Pat contacted me for help with a unique project that she is undertaking, and she shared her story with me. Pat has been working very hard (with the local midwives) to reintroduce healthy pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and babywearing practices to the women of these Honduran villages. The women in these villages have gotten away from the (healthier) more traditional practices of using a midwife for prenatal care and during childbirth, they are using formula instead of breastfeeding, and as Pat put it so succinctly in an email to me, “These women are asking for strollers for their babies in an area where there is no place to stroll.” Somehow these isolated women have taken on some Western practices that have had very negative influences on their families, and on their society as a whole. In addition, poverty is a tremendous problem in these villages; many of the women have taken on prostitution as the means to supporting their families. I was deeply grieved—here I and my 4 children have enjoyed the excellent prenatal and birthing care of several midwives, unmedicated births, extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and all the amazing benefits of babywearing, all practices that originated in societies similar to the one that Pat is working among.
Pat asked me if I—Baby So Smart—would be willing or able to help her with this project. I was immediately brought to tears, for several reasons. First, I was humbled to have been asked to be able to share in such an awesome undertaking as this one that Pat is involved with. Second, because a project like this is, to me, the major reason why I started Baby So Smart back in 2004. A little personal history: Prior to meeting and marrying my husband of almost ten years, I worked with a Christian medical humanitarian organization for over two years and had the amazing opportunity of traveling to almost 40 countries (including Honduras!) and providing medical, surgical, and spiritual care to hurting people all around the world. I remember seeing the women in these countries carrying their babies in indigenous carriers of all sorts, breastfeeding anywhere and everywhere for very long durations, and noticing that their babies seemed somehow more content than the American babies I was accustomed to working with in the American hospitals I worked in. I didn’t understand it completely then, but a few years later, after getting married and giving birth to our oldest child, I bought a ring sling and our lives were changed forever. Baby So Smart formally came about in 2004, providing breastfeeding, babywearing, and infant development classes at the local level, and manufacturing high-quality baby carriers for parents around the world, primarily in response to what I remembered seeing all over the world and because implementing these practices in our own family brought about such a tremendous positive change.
But I digress. We here at Baby So Smart are thrilled to be able to announce that we are partnering with Pat as she continues her efforts with these Honduran women. Here’s how we are going to help:
1. We are going to provide Pat with a batch of ring slings to take with her on her next trip back to Honduras, to be used by the mothers in these remote Honduran villages.
2. We are providing Pat with our ring sling pattern, to be used by several of the women of Honduras, for the manufacturing of their own ring slings, giving them a means to support themselves. These are women who have been using prostitution to support their families.
3. We have put Pat in contact with World Vision; World Vision is in the process of qualifying this outreach branch of Cristo Salva to receive micro-enterprise loans, so that more Honduran women can start their own businesses to support their families.
4. We are providing Pat with our printed educational material, which she will take with her to Honduras for translation by these same Hondurans, who will be paid for their work in translation services.
5. We have provided Pat with the information needed to help these people of Honduras purchase the equipment necessary to start up their own sling-making business. Several Honduran men will be trained in sewing machine maintenance repair, yet another skill that can be used to support themselves and their families.
Our main slogan at Baby So Smart is “Could wearing your baby change the world?”™ I believe this is yet another opportunity to see the practice of babywearing make a huge positive impact on families around the world, and not just seeing the critical physical and emotional benefits that come from the practice of babywearing, but also giving women a way to leave a life of prostitution. But I’m limited in my efforts, just as Pat is. She is one woman, striving to affect some massive change, and I’m one woman with a small business, trying to support her as much as I can. We are both limited in our physical resources.
Here’s where you come in: I would love to send Pat back to Honduras with a sizeable financial gift to help get this project off the ground, with some funds left over to meet the business needs that will be ongoing—purchasing of rings, fabrics, etc. It’s not practical to send her with all the materials needed to start this sling making business—sewing machines, a serger, fabrics, thread, needles, rings, etc. The cost of transporting all these materials through customs and then deep into the country of Honduras would be prohibitive. I believe that moms enjoy helping other moms, and this is an opportunity to do just that, by sending a small financial gift of $5, $10, $15, or $20. This money will be given directly to Pat Havener, who will use it to help get this sling making business off the ground by providing education about the “Benefits of Babywearing,” and training in sling making and sewing machine maintenance and repair. Monetary gifts can be sent via PayPal, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please indicate that your gift is going to “Pat Havener” or simply mark it “Honduras” and we will make sure that all these monies get turned over to Pat.
I look forward to seeing this project come about, and I thank you for your help in this wonderful opportunity.
Tiffany Speck, RN, BS, CBE, Owner
Could wearing your baby change the world?