Even Babies Get the Blues

Rachel over at Women’s Health News and I serve on the same board.  Ha, in fact, I kind of feel like the most important thing I did for that Board is to realize that they didn’t really need me on it, they needed Rachel.

Anyway, the Board oversees the Center which oversees this program–the Maternal Infant Health Outreach Worker (MIHOW) program–that I am madly in love with.  You can read the website yourself, but to make a long story short, MIHOW gets invited into communities that hear about it to train regular women who are already trusted women in the community to provide structured guidance to expecting and young mothers in their communities.

It’s the kind of program it’s easy for me to love, first, because it’s effective.  Families that work with the MIHOW program get health insurance, adequate prenatal care, and they tend to breastfeed.  Their kids go to the doctor more regularly and women in the MIHOW program tend to have fewer children spaced farther apart than other women in their communities.

Second, I love it because it’s not a bunch of well-meaning folks from far away going into a community and trying to “fix” things.  MIHOW must be invited into the community by the folks already there and the MIHOW workers are women in the communities who are already the women folks tend to turn to for advice.  This is just making sure that they have the best information they can for how to help promote health in their communities.

Third, I love it because MIHOW is in some of the most isolated communities in the South.  Last night, we learned that MIHOW has been invited into Itta Bena, MS (for those of you who remember your Mississippi history, you’ll remember that Itta Bena is the birthplace of B.B. King, James Bevel, and Marion Barry.  You’ll also remember that Robert Johnson was poisoned in a juke joint just south of town there.  It’s in the same county as Greenwood, where Johnson ultimately died, and Money, where Emmitt Till was killed.  In the whole county, there are 38,000 people.) and Big Ugly, West Virginia, which is an unincorporated town up in the mountains, that even Google Maps could not find.  But in these communities, it’s the community members who are trained to help each other.

Anyway, it’s a great program and I love it and, if I had a million dollars, I would fund it.  But I don’t.  So, I’m telling you about it, instead, because one of the things the MIHOW workers try to do is to take a book with them to each meeting with a family and to leave it for the kids.  I assume that these are picture books or simple books for young childred to either read themselves or have read to them by a parent or older sibling.

Well, the MIHOW workers have been wondering if there are books out there, appropriate for small children, in which the children look like the children being served by MIHOW.  Also, they’d like Spanish-language books appropriate for young children.

And, of course, there’s no money in MIHOW’s budget to buy such books.  But it doesn’t matter if they’re used, as long as they’re in okay shape.  So, dear interent, I’m asking you to help me think about who I might pester about such books.

For new books, I wonder about asking Ingram’s or maybe Scholastic.  But for used books, I know we have parents here.  What do you do with your books when your kids outgrow them?  I wonder if it would be worthwhile to have some kind of book drive.  I also wonder–there certainly are a lot of native Spanish speakers with some money teaching at local universities.  I wonder if they’d be willing to help specifically with the books for kids in Spanish.

Advise me, dear internet.  What do you think?

11 thoughts on “Even Babies Get the Blues

  1. Thats interesting, and now I’m in love with MIHOW as well. Books. HMMMM, thats a good question. We tried to give away our kids books long ago, i think they ultimately went to GoodWill. Where will they be stored? I mean, if you guys suddenly found 10,000 books you could use, where would you put them until they are dispersed? Shipping is also a concern.

    Lets talk about this later, if you want.

  2. Mack, good questions. I’m not sure. My guess, without asking the Center’s director, is that they would end up in a back room or in someone’s basement and that, when someone from the Center went out to a site, they would take books for the women to deliver.

    I could ask, though. They’re already taking books to home visits now, so the mechanism for distributing them once they get to these communities is in place. I’m just not sure about how it works to get them there.

    Of course I want to talk about it later. You and Rachel are like the king and queen of activism, at least among activists I know–passion and practical knowledge is what you’re full of.

  3. B, thanks for the complement. There has to be somebody who would donate books, right? MIHOW needs so much – books, money, people resources. It would be great to be able to help in some small way.

    Mack, we’re talking kids who are up to about 3 years old, although I wonder if a couple of titles the kids could “grow into” once they age out of the program would also be welcome. One problem of distribution is that the sites are around the southeast, but like B said, they must be handling it somehow already.

  4. I think I got dumped in the spamulator for giving you links to not-for-profit book distribution outfits like my favorite, the National Book Scholarship Fund (nbsf.org) which is already pretty active in the Southeast….if I didn’t wind up in your spam pot, let me know and I’ll send these addresses to your e-mail account.

  5. I can ask my mom about books where the kids look like them. I know I had no shortage of books where kids looked like me (or like animals of indeterminate corresponding race) when I was young, though most of the ones I remember (for obvious reasons) are more in the 4-7 reading range than the 3 and under.

    We might even still have them in the garage or something. I don’t know how easy they’d be to get to, but that’s certainly a thought. It might be faster/more efficient for me to just buy a book or two through Amazon instead and have it shipped to y’all, though.

  6. Look into the 2nd Saturday book sales at the Donelson branch of the Nashville Public Library. Or just talk to the main library, they could probably point you in the right direction.

  7. Dolly Parton’s project, mentioned by Bridgett, is supposed to be really good. We have something similar in Georgia called Kids Ferst, which was modeled on her foundation. I haven’t forgotten how to spell “first”. It has to do with the Ferst Foundation.

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