Mother ready to cook peas - CV Nairobi, Kenya…
Mama Ngundi, a natural mother.
Mother ready to cook peas - CV Nairobi, Kenya
Mama Ngundi never wanted to get married, but she felt that she was a natural mother and wanted a large family. So when SOS Children's Villages offered her a job she never looked back. A story provided by Hilary Atkins, co-worker with SOS Children's Villages Kenya.
A natural mother
It's a warm afternoon at the SOS Children's Village Eldoret and I am walking around the village before the children get home from school, like the SOS mothers, savouring the tranquillity. As I pass one house I see a mother about to start peeling a very large pile of potatoes. She is sitting on a stool in the sun and I am struck by the serene way she goes about the most menial of chores. I go up to her and ask her what she is preparing for supper. This is how I meet Mama Ngundi and how one mother bonds with another despite very different backgrounds.
Mama Ngundi and I chat about healthy diets for our children and compare notes. She shows me the maize she has picked and is now drying in order to grind it into flour. I ask why she bothers to do this when she can easily buy maize flour in the shops and she explains that her flour will be healthier because the outer husk of each grain has not been taken off, as it has in the packet flour. She will mix her flour with the packet flour so that her children will have a better diet.
I marvel at Mama Ngundi's diligence. How many mothers take the time to do this? This mother is dedicated and I decide to find out more about her. I arrange to visit her again when she has more time.
Mother ready to cook peas - CV Nairobi, Kenya
Trained to be nursery school teacher
The following day, sitting in Mama Ngundi's neat living room she tells me her story. Back in 1982 she was training to be a nursery school teacher, when her class visited the SOS Children's Village Nairobi. It was one of several places that they visited where the mission was to take care of children. As time went on and Mama Ngundi graduated, she forgot about that visit and went on to be a kindergarten teacher. Although she never married she bore two children and realised that her role in life was to be a mother. But she did not want to marry. "I was wondering how I could go on to have a large family of my own without marrying", she says.
Then in 1989, she read an advert in the paper asking for women to train as SOS mothers. She remembered the time that she had visited the Nairobi village and applied. "The advert encouraged me", she explains, "because they were ready to take women who were already mothers with two children less than eight years old. I qualified. I was ready for the job. I had decided that this was the life I wanted. I had made up my mind."
Pioneering SOS mother in Eldoret
Mama Ngundi was accepted to train as an SOS mother and became a pioneer mother at the new SOS Children's Village Eldoret where she was given 10 children to look after. Today some of those children are at college or university and one has just graduated as an accountant. But although those first children are all now living in youth facilities Mama Ngundi's family is still growing and eight children sit at the dining table for meals, the youngest just three.
"Being a mother is kind of natural", says Mama Ngundi. "but it is also challenging because the children come from different backgrounds. Because I have to bring them up as my own I have to teach them how to be good brothers and sisters. It takes some time to get them settled. Then you become a family".
Mama Ngundi has always encouraged her children to work hard at school. The younger ones, she says, measure themselves against the oldest girl who set the pace and graduated from university. "I encourage them to emulate her", she adds.
But sometimes there are difficulties. "The most difficult part is adolescence", Mama Ngundi admits. "They really challenge you as a mother. I apply what I have learnt and move on. Not all children are the same. Some are gifted, others don't perform to expectations, but I tell them that they can also make it."
Being an SOS mother you are never alone
The thing Mama Ngundi loves most about her work is that she is never alone. "Whenever you come across challenges", she explains, our director is there to assist, as are the other mothers. We encourage one another".
As to the practical aspects of mothering, Mama Ngundi is confident. "I feed the children with healthy food. I learnt nutrition at college and I apply what I learnt in school, and what I am still learning at home. It is good to feed children so that they can grow in body and mind".
But is it not hard work being a mother to so many children, I ask before I take my leave. Mama Ngundi's answer confirms my first impression: that this lady has found happiness in being an SOS mother "It is not hard work as I love being a mother. And it is fun sometimes. My duty is to bring my children closer to me, by showing them love, giving them a sense of belonging and ensuring that they feel they are a real family".