Women Association of Roma Women of Dendropotamos
Major Development Agency of Thessaloniki (MDAT)
The Mama project started in mid-2020 aiming to support new parents through the provision of a holistic package of supportive services and activities. Prenatal and postnatal counselling, workshops and events (in person and remotely) for prospective and new parents as well as their toddlers, are organized to help them through their first steps as new parents, while also empower them to become active community members and allow them to establish a supportive network on which they can rely on.
Thessaloniki, Northern Greece
Counselling for new mothers (including on breastfeeding, nutrition, pre- and post-natal care) and creating a sense of belonging and community have emerged as highly important but poorly resourced in the current landscape of the city of Thessaloniki. The MAMA project provides personalized support to new parents who are particularly vulnerable and therefore lack the means to secure support when preparing for, giving birth and looking after an infant. All parents-to-be who participate in the project learn a great deal of information which is vital to the pregnancy, birth, and upbringing of their children. More important though, they become empowered and feel part of a community of people who are going through the same experience and face similar challenges.
The MAMA project targets new mothers and fathers mainly from marginalized and excluded environments, such as newcomers to the city of Thessaloniki, migrants and refugees, new parents from the Roma community, parents with minimum or no income, unemployed and without a supportive network and single-headed families. A healing and safe environment will be created to support them and guide them throughout their first steps starting from pregnant life to postnatal care, parenthood and beyond. This project is an integration and community-based project that aims to empower and create a sense of community and belonging for its participants, where they will feel safe to also discuss other issues of concern, such as child marrieges (in the case of Roma) or cases of domestic violence.
The following services and activities are offered through MAMA project:
• Provision of information on pregnancy care, preparation for natural birth and the importance and benefits of breastfeeding through regular info sessions (in person at the established space Lab29A of SolidarityNow and remotely/online)
• Theoretical and practical session on healthy nutrition, aiming on the introduction of complementary solid foods for babies, advice on a balanced, healthy, nutrient-rich diet for pregnant women and infants.
• Facilitation of group sessions on different subjects related to pre- and post-natal care, including the health of new mothers (labor, family planning) and babies (stages of pregnancy, importance of vaccination etc.), post-natal care and care for the new-born
• Parental skills group sessions for parents of infants and young children.
• Creation of peer-to-peer support groups. Topics will include baby care, infant massage and the mother-baby bond. However, group discussions on issues of common concern that go beyond parenthood, such as domestic violence, gender inequalities especially in caregiving and child upbringing will also be addressed.
• Operation of a child-friendly space where children are engaged in play-based educational activities, facilitated by trained staff while their mothers are engaged in other activities.
The project has directly/in person supported over 100 mothers- and fathers-to be since its launch in mid-2020 (current funding ends in June 2021), and has reached a much larger number through online seminars, workshops and other activities. If this project is approved for funding via Civic Europe, we expect to reach at least 150 beneficiaries in person and approximately 500 additional beneficiaries via online seminars, workshops and groups within one-year. All project beneficiaries will be supported and empowered to undertake their new role as parents/caregivers, feel strong and knowledgeable and become part of a community, where they will have a more active role as parents and citizens.
The MAMA project is a community project, through which new parents feel empowered, knowledgeable, secure, strong and part of a community of parents who despite their problems are there for each other and aim to raise healthy and strong children. The project is built around the idea of creating a safe space/network at local/ community level where parents feel safe to discuss issues of common concern. Through the discussion groups facilitated by SN staff and local experts, new parents from different backgrounds, such as refugees, migrants and Roma, are brought together to discuss parental issues but also other issues of concern such as child marriage (an important issue for the Roma community), domestic violence, gender equality, accessing public and non-formal education etc.
SolidarityNow is well known and trusted in the community having a long experience in the field of child protection and the establishment of female support groups, having benefited over 14,000 children and their caregivers to date through its partnership with UNICEF. The project team consists of a group of passionate individuals who strongly believe in an inclusive society. The team includes an experienced midwife, who is an advocate of natural birth and breastfeeding, a social scientist with a long experience in child development and enhancement of the child-parent bond, a multilingual cultural mediator with experience in working with women and families from disadvantaged backgrounds, and a project manager/social scientist competent in facilitating group discussions on various issues.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
• Staff cost – 26,000
• Zoom licences, IT equipment – 1,000
• Printing and Communications - 600
• External activities - 2,000
• Operational costs – 3,200
• Travel – 500
We are looking forward to receiving your feedback on our project idea! We would be happy to answer your questions, exchange views on how to empower and support new parents mainly from disadvantaged backgrounds. The issues at stake are universal therefore any ideas for improvement are welcome!