Waka Waka Moo hits the road

By Maria Hamutenya

WAKA Waka Moo, a local children’s entertainment and educational television show that incorporates hand puppetry and animation for children, recently had a roadshow to improve Early Childhood Development (ECD) in the country.

The aim was to take the show to children who have no access to television and to take a step towards sensitising the wider community and schools about Early Childhood development. Without a combination of vital support services, children risk never reaching their development potential.

Early childhood is defined as the period from conception through birth to eight years of age, which is the period where the child’s brain goes through rapid growth. The early stages of a child’s life are important in shaping and moulding them into functional adults.

During the early childhood period it is vital that children receive quality healthcare and nutrition, early stimulation, learning and play, and live in a safe and nurturing environment for them to fulfil their potential later in life.

Waka Waka Moo country coordinator Lafika Heita says with the Right Steps campaign their aim is not only to address children and parents, but the message is also aimed at carers and teachers, as they too are present when various centres are visited.

Their road trip started on 23 September and ended on 11 October. They toured the four regions of Omaheke, Ohangwena, Zambezi and Kavango East, stopping at various ECD centres and also visited a total of 16 schools in the four regions.

“We addressed current issues that are pressing in the regions via our puppet show and we teach children certain messages that come from the television show, like non-violence,” Heita added.

The Right Steps campaign under Waka Waka Moo is in partnership with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, Ministry of Health and Social Services, and enjoys the support of the European Union, Interteam Swiss and UNICEF.

Heita said during the roadshow they got to interact with more than 2,000 children, 143 teachers, 283 parents and visited a total 98 ECD centres within the four regions. “I think it was a great experience for the children as they really enjoyed it, but they also paid a lot of attention to the message that was being portrayed.”

For some children it was a first-time experience, as they may never have watched any animation in their own mother tongue for that matter, nor been exposed to the excitement and allure of live puppets and mascots.

She further added that this was just the beginning and that a lot of work still has to be done to spread the important message of Early Childhood Development. Their aim is take to the show and its message through the whole Namibia.