African Women Carry Their Babies On Their Back
Her name is Fatima and she is American. Born her in the United States. She lives in a house with her grandmother, her mother, 2 other aunts and a group of cousins who float in and out of the house. Her grandmother and the aunts were all born in Republic of the Congo but lived several years in a refugee camp in a country that was called "Ivory Coast" at the time they were there but is now called Cote de Voire (French for Ivory Coast). One day some immigration people came to the camp and told the grandmother, Odile, that she would be going to the U.S. the following day. They pointed to her three daughters and said they would go with her. She asked, "What about my three sons? I can't go without them." They simply told her that if she wasn't willing to leave the boys then none of them would go. The boys told her she had to go, not to worry about them, they would be all right. To this day the family sends money back to the camp to keep the boys alive. Odile is elderly and speaks almost no English. She does child care and still carries the babies on her back African style. It is really much better than doing it American style. The babies or even toddlers fall asleep, never cry, it doesn't hurt the mother's back and her arms are free to go about her work. She can bend over without fear of losing the child and the cloth never comes untied. Most of the folks we work with still practice lots of African traditions. This is one of them. The day we visited Odile's house, Odile wasn't there. Fatima's 12 year old sister was babysitting. Fatima brought the large piece of material with an African print on it to me and asked me to help her tie it like her Grandma does so she could carry her baby on her back. So cute I had to take a picture.