By: Rahmat Bagus, Parow, Cape Town, South Africa
I am a Leader with the Parow Group in Cape Town,South Africa, with my two co-Leaders Dilshaad Sungay and Gwynneth Hefke. Our Group is in a low to middle income area. For seven to eight years, we received no donations or memberships from the mothers in our area. Consequently we personally covered the costs of running our meetings and providing snacks, tea and coffee. Two years ago, we decided to add the following statement to our meeting notices:
“Meetings are free but an R20 (equivalent of United States $1.30) donation would be appreciated and helps us to keep LLL running.”
To our surprise, mothers started giving R20 and sometimes more. Those small amounts added up and helped us pay for providing refreshments at meetings. The donations also helped us grow our library by buying books, and they allow us to continue our own growth by funding Communication Skills Training and breastfeeding courses to upgrade our knowledge and skills to help mothers more effectively.
Our Group started 11 years ago and attendance varies. We’ve had quite large Group meetings of around 20 mothers. Occasionally we’ve had to split the Group between two Leaders. But we’ve also had very quiet meetings with only one mother attending. We also invite grandmothers and female caregivers to attend. We have had one fathers meeting as well last year, after several mothers requested that. Our closest Groups are 15 to 20 kilometers (about 9 to 12 miles) away.
Parrow Group was started by my supporting Leader, Dilshaad Sungay, who got her 20-year leadership badge last year. Dilshaad had been an LLL Leader for ten years already, and a busy mother to five children, as well as being one of our peer counselor training coordinators. She had attempted starting up a Group in our area a few times before I met her but had not had much community support or success in attendance.
I am also a medical doctor, and had just recently started up my own private practice, a year before meeting Dilshaad. You could say that fate brought us together. I referred mothers to Dilshaad, and that’s how our Group got started and grew. Dilshaad kept encouraging me to join LLL and consider leadership. Five years ago, I did just that. Another Leader, Gwynneth, joined our Group about three years ago.
We also started a WhatsApp group (a messaging group) and currently have 250 mothers in the group. This helps mothers to reach us at times of difficulty, between meetings, and allows mothers to connect and support each other.
Many of us find it difficult to ask mothers for money, but we realized from this experience that mothers want to contribute but may feel there’s an expectation of a “big” financial donation, and therefore may refrain from giving any donation at all. By giving them an actual figure that’s affordable, they gladly contribute, and several small contributions pool to become a sustainable source of income for our LLL activities. We just wanted to share our experience, and hopefully help other Leaders who may be struggling with raising funds.
Rahmat Bagus is a mother to two sons and two daughters, ages 16, 13, 9 and a recently self-weaned five-year-old. She has assisted at La Leche League meetings for the last ten years in Cape Town, South Africa, and became an accredited Leader five years ago. She is also the Assistant Area Professional Liaison for South Africa.