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AMURTEL Greece baby massage training

Following the enthusiastic reception of our Birthlight Nurturing Baby Massage handbooks gifted to refugee new mothers in Athens through AMURTEL Greece and Didi Uttama-Lee's eloquent presentation at the 2018 Womb to World Conference.

Didi and I planned a pilot hands-on baby massage training for leaders who could then pass on the practices to others. Having followed Didi’s wonderful service to pregnant women and new mothers and their babies in her Athens centre that is a hub of body and soul maternity care for displaced and vulnerable women, I immediately felt at home in AMURTEL. In Just over three days, we went from techniques to heart-felt engagement, from dolls to real babies, from distance across nationalities to cross-cultural exchanges, from guarded silence to laughter and songs. At first, the informality of our circle raised questions visible on the leaders’ faces: was this serious enough? But then, as in every Birthlight circle all over the world, the women remembered this ancestral form of sharing knowledge. For some if not most, this was a lived memory even though local knowledge had been lost in wars, migration and often tragic life events. We all relaxed, and our usual fun mix of theory and hands-on practice worked a treat. What an intelligent bunch this was, fast learners, gifted imitators and teachers! Through the language barriers, diagrams conveyed research they wanted to know about.

When visiting mothers came all the way from the camps with their babies, we had more than a successful demonstration of massage strokes.  This was a lively party integrating holds, dance steps and lullabies. To me the lullabies were perhaps the most moving part of this experience because they conjured up a tangible link with countries of origin and memories of the older people who stayed behind. The exchange of lullabies* that captured everyone’s interest, crossed more than national borders. In a subtle, rapid and deep running way, we all knew that what we were doing together was healing mothers and mother-infant relationships. Through playful interactions and babies’ delight, mothers were enjoying this moment fully. Affirmations of this newly found awareness brought visible glows on all faces as time came to say goodbye.

Thank you again Didi for hosting this live training and for all the work you do; thanks to Supriya Horn, Birthlight practitioner from the UK, for being such a great assistant tutor and thanks to the professionals supporting AMURTEL’s work in Athens. The refugee women and the babies who took part in this training are in my heart forever and I wish to all to find easier mothering trajectories, as much as is possible in our complex world.

Three of the lullabies sung during the training (in Swahili and Farsi) were recorded live with permission for the Birthlight Lullaby Quilt. Please continue to send your lullabies for the Quilt as there is a great need for easy and short songs that can cross borders and cultures.

If you'd like to train as a Birthlight nurturing baby massage teacher our next course is:
Saturday 7 - Monday 9 September, effraspace London with tutor Bryony Vickers  

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