Friday, December 16, 2011

The Gates Foundation, The New Orleans Saints, and the Influence of Grandmas

I read an article today from about Melinda Gates, talking about the Gates Foundation's efforts to promote world health.  An interesting story she tells is about trying to get moms in India to quit using mustard seed oil on their babies, which can cause infection, and instead to use sunflower seed oil, which actually helps prevent infection.  Rather than just printing pamphlets, putting up signs at health clinics, or other traditional methods of persuasion, instead they made up a little song about it, and taught it to the...wait for it...grandmothers.  Yep, the grandmas were the most influential members of the community, so they were the most likely to spread the word. 
The foundation worked with mothers in the Indian community to write a song, a jingle set to a catchy Indian tune, that explains what oil to use, where to put it, and where not to. They taught it to grandmothers, because they have the influence to spread messages in the community. “We hope it will spread to many, many villages, so it works in a culturally appropriate way, so it actually saves the lives of newborns,” Gates says.
I love it!  Grandmas have a huge influence here in the US too, and we shouldn't forget it.  Our little ones are watching us and learning from us every time we're with them. 

One of our granddaughters, while helping decorate the tree the other day, put up an ornament with the New Orleans Saints symbol on it.  She asked what it was, and I explained that it was from my brother who lives there.  She asked, "Do you like New Orleans?"  I replied, "Well, yes, I guess I do."  (No offense to my beloved Chiefs.)  Then, she said, "Well, since you like them, I like them too."  Yes, grandmas, that's the kind of influence we have, and someday, when our grandkids are rooting for a favorite NFL team, or teaching their grandkids about the best kind of oil to use on babies, words will pop out of their mouths, and they'll wonder, "Now, where did that come from?"  Yes, grandmas, it came from us.

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