Introducing the Memory Book workshops

The Memory Book started in London, U.K. in 1996. It was “invented” to help parents who were ill with HIV/Aids. Treatments were not good at that time and parents were afraid that they would die while their children were still very young. Many of these parents came from Uganda and other countries in East Africa and they wanted their children to know about the family background and where to find the extended family. These brave parents shared their ideas about what they wanted to tell their children – and that was the beginning of the Memory Book.

sample memory book page by a Kololo womanToday the Memory Book is not just for people with HIV. Any parent or relative in any country can use these ideas. Sections of the Book can be included or left out, whatever feels best to fit each family. Experience over 20 years shows that people of different backgrounds and all ages find the Memory Book ideas easy to understand. Another lovely discovery is that when parents start to make a Memory Book, their children soon get interested and want to help. This often leads on to parents and children talking to each other about important information that has never been discussed before.

Since the early days Memory Book ideas have gone around the world – and now they are here on the internet, free for anyone to use.

listening to memory book workshop trainerThe workshop and other resources explained on this website have been tried out with small groups of parents living in rural parts of Uganda. These are people who will probably never get a chance to attend formal training from one of the big NGOs or government services. But like parents everywhere, they want to be sure that, if anything happens to the family, their children will grow up with a strong identity and understanding of their parents values and hopes for their future.

You could say the workshops provide a “first aid service”, giving information and ways of working which are easy and low cost for small groups (or people working on their own) to copy.
group work life history page
Making Memory Books with young people. As well as workshops for parents, carers and community leaders, this website also suggests ways of using Memory Book ideas with young people. Experience of working with young people who are living in difficult circumstances, shows that they are desperate to find a safe space where they can open up about past loss and their confusion about how to make their way in the world when parental guidance is missing. These workshops have also proved to be a lot of fun!

Using Memory Book ideas with grandparents and other people who are looking after orphans and other vulnerable children.

The Memory Book ideas can be adapted to help older relatives or community members to collect information which will help young children in their care. If the childrens’ memories and facts about what happened to them are written down quickly, the truth will not be lost. The children will know at least some of their history and have information to help them find extended family members. Further on in this website you will find ideas about how a Memory Book can still be put together when the parents are no longer around.