Gayle Berry, FHT Accredited Course Provider, and owner of Blossom and Berry Baby Massage spent time in Malawi to help teach baby and infant massage to staff at the Ministry of Hope baby orphanage.
Here Gayle tells us her story:
‘I am an expert on baby massage and yoga and have worked hard to build up Blossom & Berry Baby Massage – a successful business with international recognition and over 200 teachers across the world. I have been teaching, as well as training others to teach, infant massage and yoga, for over 15 years and I am passionate about the positive benefits of nurturing touch in early years.
‘In 2014 I stumbled across some incredible sunglasses called LOVE SPECS. Love Specs turn any light into rainbow love hearts and more importantly, through sales at music festivals, they generate income for Love Support Unite Africa. LSU was founded by Alice and Nina Pulford to provide sustainable education to the poorest children in Malawi. Their work has ensured powerful and lasting change, built on people rather than proceeds.
‘I decided to volunteer with the charity using my experience in infant and baby massage to benefit babies in orphanages who were not receiving regular touch. I provided free training to the staff at the Ministry of Hope baby orphanage, so the babies could receive the vital interaction they were missing. Massage provides so much more than touch; it helps to support the development of the emotional brain in children, teaching them about the world and human relationships. Babies thrive and grow on love and baby massage provides a window of gentle stimulation and nurturing experience.’
‘I set up Growing Babies: Little Blossoms Project, working alongside Love Support Unite Africa Foundation, aiming to harness the power of parents, families and communities to improve mother and baby health and early brain development in children aged 0-3 years, through educational programs and nutrition. We use infant massage to provide the vital love, positive communication and attachment needed for healthy physical and emotional development, whilst providing women with skills and knowledge they can share. I have taught, funded and now support five infant massage Nurture Ambassadors to teach six women’s groups infant massage and safe motherhood. I was able to teach hospital physios, special needs massage, as many children have cerebral palsy as a result of premature birth, due to malaria. I also set up a sustainable farming project to provide food security.
‘Growing Babies-The Little Blossoms Project has two volunteer trips a year for baby massage instructors who have changed many lives in Malawi with goals to focus on carers, mothers and babies and the wider family unit. We aim to provide education, training and support to parents and babies, increasing the health and wellbeing of families, using infant massage, baby health care guidance and first aid techniques. Out main goal is to empower women within the community and give these babies the best start in life. All my teachers have the opportunity to become volunteers in Malawi. I also donate 10% of my baby massage enrolments to the project so one student’s education helps to fund the safe motherhood and infant massage education of women and babies in poverty through our Nurture Ambassador’s classes in Malawi.
‘What I hadn’t reckoned on, was exactly how much I could, and would, continue to give. Nor how much joy I would receive back from this trip. I went from being a curious volunteer to being a knowing participant and now, UK Director of the charity.’
You can find out more about Gayle’s company and project here