Global Service Scholar: Christy Muok
Country: South Africa
Looking back on my time here in Cape Town, and within my internship site at The Zoe Project, I believe that my greatest objective was breaking through to the girls (13 to 15 years old) in the young mommy classes. The classes were created to teach those who are pregnant what will happen to their bodies before, during and after labor, as well as guide them in the first 1,000 days of being a new mom.
At first, I noticed that the girls mirrored the type of young girls that I went to school with in my inner city high school in Syracuse, New York. Because of this, I felt as though I had the ability to speak to them in order to get inside their heads so that they would be able to open up and start to think about the ways in which they were going to be good moms and role models to their new babies.
Although I had a short time with the girls (three sessions to be exact), I was really able to get them to start talking and thinking. At first when I would ask them a question, the girls wouldn’t say a word — instead they would just stare at the ground of look around to the other girls to see if the other girls were going to act like they didn’t know the answer to questions like: how do you know you are in labor?
However, after two sessions they all began to act excited to answer a question and they would bounce ideas and knowledge off each other. That moment was probably my greatest achievement in life. I think that the biggest breakthrough to the girls was when I told them that they would have to speak to the class and say what kind of future they wanted for their babies. I believe that question quickly changed their perspective on what it means to be a mother. After I asked them that question, they all said that they didn’t know what kind of future they wanted, but that answer wasn’t good enough for me. I told them that they could not leave the classroom until they all came up with one thing that they wanted their baby to have. For a 14 year old in South Africa, that was probably the hardest task that they will have to navigate in the years to come. Not only are the girls so young with absentee parents, they will have to work hard to find a way to raise their own children. My experience with teaching the young mommies class has taught me that young girls have to be spoken to as equals so that our knowledge that we want to pass on to them will be accepted.