The question you have is where this interview was taking place. First, let me clarify one thing. It was not an interview. It was just 2 moms, sitting on the street, sharing our stories. The only difference was, she was still working. People would drop by every now and then to drop the little they had to offer Anastasia. They would look at me strangely but I would smile at them and quip my ‘Thanks’, mostly feeling happy that really, there are people out there willing to help.
Anastasia lives in Korogocho, but the corner of Barclays Bank, Westlands is where you will find her seated, with her last born boy, who is very jovial. I played nanny for the few hours that I was chatting Anastasia. And who wouldn’t? He is as hyper as they come! We even had lunch right there!
When I first approached Anastasia, I was nervous. I don’t know whether she could see or sense it. She was under an umbrella. The sun was quite hot, and she has the skin condition that we know as Albinism, inherited from birth. This requires her to be under shade, but since the most strategic place would be under the sun, she copes by having an umbrella on hand at all times. Most of our chat is in Kiswahili, and hers is quite fluent. Better than mine. I tell her what my intention is, and how I would like to feature her as a Kenyan Mom. She has been through this dance, and she really likes her privacy. She is distrusting of strangers, and very protective of her child, and I see it by the way she grabs hold of her boy even as I continue telling her what I’d like to do.
She turns me down outright. I’m almost giving up since I am a bundle of nerves. Something compels her to engage me more. She tells me that she is not exactly having a good day, and if I would be willing, then I could arrange an appointment with her and we can chat another day. She then goes ahead and asks my where the story would appear and when I tell her it will be online, she seems to relax a little. She does not like media and she does not want to be on television.
Just then she tells me to take a seat. Right there. On the ground. She places a lesso for me and I do not even think twice. By this time her boy is all over my handbag and giggling. We continue chatting just as her lunch was arriving and she jovially invites me to it. I am the guest. It is customary and polite to accept food offered to you. I offer to pay and she says that is ok.
As we continue our chat, I gather from her the reason she found herself on the streets. When she was born with Albinism, her father could not come to terms with this and he abandoned her and her mother. Unfortunately, her mother was taken ill and passed on. She was left with no one to take care of her. Until some former friends of her mother took her in and brought her up the best way they could. She did not go to school since no one could afford to take her to school.
Life went on and she found herself with 4 children. These children she loves with all her heart. She tells me that one was taken in by a good Samaritan and she sees her every so often but she is happy and very grateful for the support the Samaritan has continued to offer her baby. She however informs me that she is not willing to give up any more of her children. They are her life, her purpose for waking up every morning. 2 of the other children are in class 3 and nursery respectively. This is the point where her head falls and I sense some amount of sadness. So I ask her to tell me more about the ones in school. She informs me that she has had to move them from the school where they were because the fee became too high and she could not afford. What’s the problem with the new school, I ask. She tells me that although the school is cheap, the children do not get food, and sometimes the teacher misses class, so she has been seeing her children perform worse and worse.
She then suddenly lights up and says, I know one day I will get enough money to return my children to the school where they were in before. I have faith. My heart breaks. I wish there was a way I can help. We get back to discussing why she is on the streets. She tells me she has tried doing many things. Her eyesight is not very good and her skin condition has limited her in the things she can do. She tells however tells me that she has been trying to save some money to see if she can raise a few chicken for eggs. ‘I know one day I will get a farm and raise cows, for milk. This I can do because it doesn’t require constant concentration and I have known how to identify money easily. I’m very good with money!’ She tells me. ‘I wish people could just understand me. I have had women come here and abuse me, telling me that I have 2 hands and 2 legs and I shouldn’t be on the street. They never take time to understand me. I don’t want anybody’s pity! I am just trying to take care of my children the best way I can!’ She says with a hint of annoyance and the pride only a mother can understand.
She is so proud of her children she even tells me that I should pass by next week and she can show me their report cards, to see how well they had been doing. There goes the same worried look. Out of the blues, she tells me that I can go ahead and do her story. She even gives me permission to take her and her baby boy’s picture. We have become not just 2 moms talking but friends.
The reason why I decided to tell stories of moms on The Kenyan Mom is because of such encounters. They not only humble me but make me realise that a defeatist attitude is only in our heads. Plus I end up making friends from all walks of life! That is something no amount of money can buy. I know I am blessed.
If you are a mom and you’d like to be featured on The Kenyan Mom, or know a mom that you would like us to feature, click on the image below or drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Comments to “Featured Mom – Anastasia Ochango”
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