This is me, Anna, with my family. I'm mum to Miss 10, Mr 9, and Mr 6. I am married to Azariah and we live in Manchester.
Hi. I'm Anna, mum of three (ages 10, 9 and 6) and, together with Azariah, my husband, I co-founded the Life Village.
The Life Village is a supportive community of people invited by the child's parents or primary carer to nurture a child from birth to adulthood. We want every child to have a Life Village and we hope that here you can find support to create a Life Village and make a real difference to your child's life.
Becoming parents for the first time is daunting. I remember bringing our baby girl home for the first time all wrapped up in her blankets and fast asleep. A sense of panic washed over us: 'Will we have what it takes to be good parents? Do we have any idea what to do with a tiny baby? Help!'
Our families didn't live close by. Plus, we knew there were skills that we didn't have for parenting that others did. This is why we came up with the idea of the Life Village, a supportive community for a child.
We love the African Proverb 'it takes a village to raise a child'. In many countries, when a baby is born, whole villages (aunts, uncles, neighbours, friends) gather round to support the family and care for the child, each offering something unique. It takes a whole village to bring out the potential of a child and create healthy families. We were never meant to parent in isolation.
So before our little girl was born, Azariah and I decided together to recreate this idea of a village for our child. We chose who we wanted to ask to be part of our little one's Life Village, invited them to join and asked them to consider what skill to contribute. We then set up our first Life Village Gathering where they would all meet her and each other. The aim is for the Life Village to support her until she's 18 years old.
The Life Village is an incredible tool to enable parents and carers to create a community or 'village' around their family by inviting friends to become Life Village members. There are many benefits. Each member offers a skill and plays a specific role in the child's life which not only benefits the child, but also the child's parents and the Life Villagers themselves too.
The story so far...
Ten years on and three children later, the Life Village idea has grown.
All three of our children have their own Life Villages and we have a community of over fifty people supporting our children and our family.
Life Villagers can contribute to a child's life in a variety of ways. One Life Villager has regularly written letters to our daughter. Another member sewed her her first Christmas stocking, her own cushion and has now given her her first sewing lesson. Some of the Life Villagers take the children out on day trips, pay regularly into their savings account or play with them.
Parenting can be lonely and having a Life Village for each child means that we have a supportive community who can help out practically or offer advice when we need it. Our children are getting a rich diversity of experience from adults who love them. We hope that as they grow into teenagers, some of the Life Villagers will become role models and mentors.