We had the good fortune of connecting with Mama Umineefa Rivers-Younger and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mama Umineefa, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
My name is Umineefa -Rivers Younger, I am affectionately known in my community as Mama Umi. I am a mother, homeschooler, community activist and educational revolutionary.
I believe that knowledge of self or self-awareness and esteem are critical components to optimal growth in young children: After the birth of my now 7yr old, I wanted to be her first teacher that would focus on developing the socialization/education and confidence building skills needed to cultivate a positive self-image. I also wanted to assist other families in developing important values such as love for Afrikan heritage, good manners, caring/sharing, patience, responsibility, independence, compassion for self and others, as well as communication and teamwork. I began to network with families who united with the same concept of children learning best through freedom, choices, and respect and who implement these important values as a way of life.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Saving Our Babies, is a parent supported cooperative village operating from a child-led Afrikan centered curriculum, rooted in indigenous wisdom. In the energy of the Afrikan community, the children and their families are encouraged to embody the principles of independence, self-determination, love and cooperation. We encourage and embellish those principles as well as family, self-love, a love for Afrikan people and a love for learning. We believe that educating our own children is a revolutionary act that we openly embrace and there is no such thing as education without culture.
Saving Our Babies was started by myself, Mama Umi, in my 1-bedroom apartment in 2014. I believed that it is important as Afrikan people to create and establish a foundation for our children, ourselves. As a homeschooler I imparted a powerful love of learning, parental involvement, community involvement and cultural pride as among the most important principles in a child’s life, especially while attending school. After two years I moved the child care program or 4 students out of my home and into a new public space, March 2, 2018 serving 7 more families. S.O.B Arts has grown and changed some since the beginning to suit the needs of the families involved, yet it remains a home-like cooperative environment for educational services, community, and social empowerment for children and families. We moved into our latest and largest location August 2021 and we are thriving, saving our babies and serving 40-75 families per year.
It is our goal as a cooperative, to provide and help build a network of families that are able to be a support system for each other while also directly contributing to the enrichment of our children through the investment of volunteer time, empowerment community building and committee work. Our goal is to provide quality care, educational resources for children and to provide: a safe environment, a nurturing environment, a learning environment. We also provide a safe space for family engaged workshops, camp, rite of passage programs and more. The learning of honesty, respect, self-reliance, self-love, self-discipline, self determination, the values of being: dependable, love, sensitivity to others, kindness, friendliness, and fairness and the values of giving. And to foster unconditional love…this kind of love is very important to us because children should not grow up feeling that in order to be loved and cared for, they must meet numerous conditions. This space is a safe space.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
A week’s visit to New York in the summer would be an absolute blast. We would definitely hit the beach- Rockaway is my favorite. I would take my friend to Janes carousel in the DUMBO area of Brooklyn on the East River. We would have brunch and cocktails at Lucky’s Lounge in Bedford Stuyvesant and we have great seats to see The Lion King on Broadway. We would shop at Macy’s in Times Square which also happens to be the largest Macy’s in the world, take an evening stroll on the Brooklyn bridge or rent bikes and ride through Central Park.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I dedicate this shoutout series to my husband and best friend Cee’Allah Younger. He has been the solid foundation behind me and all of the ideas I share with him. He encouraged me to go back to school and create what I wanted to do to serve our people and our community. He is the quiet yet mighty force behind our Arts Center. He gave it its name because we both unite on the concept that our children need to be saved from the ills of society and the unhealthy, unethical, and low-frequency agenda waiting to be pushed upon them. He is indeed the drive behind my work to give them a chance at mental liberation and prepare them for the real world.