Saturday, 26 February 2011

South Africa - part 2: Just a Short Anecdote

I was pleasantly surprised to see this sign in the Two Oceans Aquarium in Capetown:

"Dads, change your baby's nappy here."  How likely would you be to see a sign like that in your country?  In France, unlikely.  In Canada, maybe.

In some places where we travel, the nappy-changing room is at least a separate room from both the men's and women's washrooms.   This is acceptable.

In other places, the baby-changing station has been placed in the women's washroom.  The person who made the decision to put it there was highly presumptuous, not to mention sexist.  Who says that it has to be me who changes the Bambino's diapers when we're en route?

This museum has gone the other way and pointed out dads in particular.  My brother would object and call this social engineering.  I say that changing stations in women's washrooms are already their own form of social engineering.  A little reverse social engineering never hurt anyone.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

South Africa part 1 - Pilanesberg Game Reserve & Sun City

Things I learned during the four days spent in Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa:

- Seeing animals in the wild is a very different experience than seeing them in a zoo or on a nature documentary.   It's breathtaking.

- It's important to choose a game reserve with a high density of animals.  Children get easily bored in the car when there are no animals around.  The Bambina preferred to play on her Nintendo DS while she waited for us to spot the animals.  

Kruger National Park has more animals than Pilanesberg (or so I'm told) but there are also many many many more people there, so you have to deal with the crowds and all the cars.

- Don't be surprised when you discovered that the kids very obviously prefer the day spent at the completely artificial, 100 percent plastic amusement park, Sun City, complete with mega-high water-slides and tidal wave pool, over the hours spent on safaris gazing at wild animals on the game reserve.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Formula marketing again.

Seen in our local Jumbo store:  this sign in the infant formula section.

The manager at the Jumbo store doesn't seem to think it's a problem.  After all, the sign is just there to tell people where the infant formula is.

And what about the cute little white baby sucking down the bottle of formula?  What kind of message is that sending?

The International Code on the Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes says:

There should be no advertising or other form of promotion to the general public of products within the scope of this Code.


there should be no point- of-sale advertising, giving of samples, or any other promotion device to induce sales directly to the consumer at the retail level, such as special displays, discount coupons, premiums, special sales, loss-leaders and tie-in sales, for products within the scope of this Code. 

Interestingly, Article 9.2 of the Code also specifies that:

Neither the container nor the label should have pictures of infants, nor should they have other pictures or text which may idealize the use of infant formula.

I would argue that this sign is a "special display" and that, given that the Code prohibits photos on the containers of the cans, a display sign with a warm and fuzzy photo of the mother with a baby drinking from a bottle should also be considered a "promotional device to induce sales" of the infant formula at Jumbo.

Of course, given that there is no real government or law enforcement agency here in Madagascar these days, I doubt that much if anything will be done about this infraction.

Monday, 7 February 2011

The hazards of household staff

Our cook lives in a house smaller than ours, without indoor plumbing (so no toilet or sink to clean) or tile floors.  She's not used to having to lock the cupboard doors under the sink, where we keep the bleach, cleaning products and insecticide sprays, and sometimes I find the safety lock on the cupboard doors open.

One day we were looking for the Bambino, who had disappeared from our living room.  This is where we found him.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Hey, anybody home?

Herein lies the essence of what makes neighbourhood life in a developing country different from your house in suburban North America or Europe.

Walls and Gates.  Metal, stone or brick.  Two metres high with sharp glass or barbed wire on top and thorny bushes on both sides at the bottom (except of course at the gate, so people and cars have a place to enter, if the guard posted out front lets them in).  

Barriers that keep intruders out - but that also keep out little neighbours who are just looking for a playmate on a lonely summer afternoon.