We got to hear from Immaculate, one of our own seamstresses, what it looks like to raise a family as a Rwandan refugee in Kenya. Here is her story in her own words:
I am a wife and mother of 7 children ( 2 sets of twins of 2 boys and 2 girls) and 1 adopted son. I usually wake up at 5.00 am, make tea for my children and prepare the young ones for school. On a day that I am working at home, I take my youngest girls to school, then I come back home to clean the house. Sometimes I end up doing the cleaning and by the time I realise how much time is gone, I start stitching and this will make me sleep late at around 2.00 am in the morning!
On those days when I go to Amani, I leave together with my youngest ones, leave them in school and then proceed to Amani. I use 3 matatus (buses) to work. Matatus can be really challenging in Nairobi, some conductors will hike up fare prices whenever they see a lot of people on the bus stage. Sometimes you pay full fare and they drop you far from where you are supposed to alight. Also, the rains. When I go back in the evening, our 2 youngest daughters play in the neighborhood until I get home at around 4 or 4.30pm. I prepare tea for them and then bathe them. Then, I start preparing evening food for the family. By the time we finish and ready for to go to bed, it’s 11pm!
My strength is derived from various areas. If I have work to do, that really encourages me because I know it helps meet my family needs like food, clothing and shelter. Food is one of the basic needs for children, when my kids are healthy and have something to eat, my day is made. Also, I am a good stitcher, I thank God for the training I have at Amani. I like it when my products usually get to pass quality control. Being in a different country, it is my duty as a mother, to make sure that the house is warm for the family, that you make home away from home. Also, I never went to school well and so seeing my children clearing high school and speaking good English more than me, this is a great achievement for me as a mother.
Being a mother has got its challenges. I am a Rwandese mother who was raised up that our hair have to be short and no wearing trousers. As a mother, it can be hard trying to teach your child the old ways versus modernity. I have learnt to be moderate in some areas. You also want to be a mother who is a friend to her children. Sometimes you are very tired, or you just want to be quiet in the house, it’s not possible! SO you continue to show your commitment and love by cooking and just answering all those many questions they ask you. Children will always ask you questions and you cannot ignore them that you are tired. Also, when they have homework, sometimes I have to prove to them that I know most things even if it’s in English but then I have to let the older ones help me.
Being a mother and being called mother is so much joy. But it also requires a lot of patience and respect. You can't tell your children do this and you are doing opposite. Also, it requires other mothers in this journey. Sometimes you just require a mother you have a shoulder to cry on. And mothers hold each others hands.
On Sundays is a family church day. But church begins at home. We have devotions everyday for 20 minutes before having our supper. I have teenagers and so the only time that works for me for family devotions is before eating. They get distracted with mobile phones and television shows. We sing and do short devotions. For the older ones, I tell them the story of Joseph, a young man who was able to take care of himself. He flee from sin. I like it because this story helps them. For the younger ones, I teach them about Jesus and who God is, I also teach them how to pray.
I appreciate being a mother. I know God has enabled me to be who I am.