Happy Baby Congo Update from Project Leader Noe Kasali

The Happy Baby Congo project in Beni is moving along well. Before the end of 2017 we had produced 174 Happy Baby carriers in the Congo. The following update from the Happy Baby Congo Project was transmitted by Project Leader Noe Kasali in July, 2018.

Dr. Baraka talks to pregnant women about the Happy Baby Carrier at CME hospital.

In its politic of supporting local initiatives, Esco Kivu agreed to buy the carriers for $20 each and made the first donation of 50 carriers to their farmers in a nearby village. Therefore, the total of $1000 in our Happy Baby Congo account came from this partnership. In additional to this, a few families have bought carriers at the price of $12. We also have spent the total of $100 to run the service for the past six months. This money has covered things like: communication and transportation in and around the city for Happy Baby related activities.

Insecurity in the Congo

The main challenge we are facing in the region is the deterioration of peace. This has resulted of ongoing massive displacements of the population, the majority being farmers. Life is getting harder and harder for these farmers who have completely lost their source of living. Farmers are now living with less than $1 per day.

Because of this situation of insecurity, we have decided to stop sending the Happy Baby Congo team to nearby villages. We cannot risk putting our team in a dangerous situation. On Monday, July 16th, Juvenale, one of our local Happy Baby staff, had his life saved miraculously. He witnessed a bomb fall to the opposite side of the road while meeting with Happy Baby users in Mavivi . We give God thanks for his protection over Juvenale.

Happy Baby Congo Carrier Cost

After the production phase last year, we found the production price (materials plus tailor fee) to be $11.50 per carrier. As a team, we chose the selling price of $12 per carrier with the result that this price is much too expensive for the vulnerable in our local community.

Happy Baby Congo Quality Control

Though we have depended on Uganda for micro fiber, I suggest for our next production we find a local fabric that will substitute black material (PV) coming from Kampala. We need to find an alternative of this material locally. This may result in cutting down the price of a carrier from $12 to $9 each.

Local Purchase

Esco Kivu (which produces cocoa and vanilla through the work of local farmers) has become our first partner in providing local, rural families with our Happy Baby Carriers. On Thursday, July 19th, another meeting was held with some of Esco Kivu’s leaders about a new distribution of 100 Happy Baby Carriers for their farmers and staff from the cities of Beni and Butembo (5

Happy Baby Congo Project Leader Noe with Madame Eva at Esco Kivu office.

4 Km south of Beni). This is exciting for our team to realize that our carriers are now moving from Beni to Butembo, another big city in our region. Buying 100 carriers will leave us with less than 10 carriers in our office. 

Production

In order to avoid scarcity of carriers in our office, we plan to start another production before the end of August. Right now we are searching for the alternative for Ugandan PV in the local market. The good news is that in our office, we still have enough micro fiber that can be used for making an additional 100 carriers or even more. So we won’t worry about microfiber for this upcoming production.

Teacher Linda carrying baby Joshua in a Happy Baby ergonomic carrier

The goal for this next Happy Baby Congo production is to reduce the price of carrier from $12 to hopefully $8 or $9 by purchasing materials locally.

Subsidizing the cost

We are in conversation with other local organizations who are interested in making contributions toward subsidizing the price of baby carriers for people who cannot afford to pay $12. Our desire is that with this possibility along with the surplus of $8 per carrier from Esco Kivu, we will be able to decrease the price of the carriers to families who want to purchase a Happy Baby Congo carrier but cannot afford the full price.