Happy mother, happy child and a booming business
Wednesday, October 13th, 2021 00:00 | 4 mins read
When Kerry Turk got married to Christof Turk, a German national in 2012 and moved to Germany, she never imagined that her life would take a different turn and see her birth her own initiative for childcare services.
Today, she is an entrepreneur, a childcare consultant, and a teacher, all wrapped into one.
The experience she got in Germany in as far as childcare services are concerned was a deep contrast from here at home. And that ignited a passion in her to make a change.
“One of the things that surprised me in Germany was the school system where children start learning the ABCs when they are seven years old and have joined primary school.
Even in school, children have some luxury with the school day ending at 1pm,” says Kerry, a mother of one.
“The best part was about the kindergarten children who go to play, play and play. Yet the children looked all disciplined, bright and just enjoyed being children even without having to be subjected to some beating.
It made me compare the life of a child in Germany with that of a child in Kenya.
Personally, while growing up, I was subjected to a lot of caning. Children are just never allowed to be children because they bother grown-ups, with many schools mainly focusing on bright students and the D and E students left on their own with little being done to assist improve their performance,” she adds.
It is this contrast that made Kerry pursue another path. “I had pursued Bachelor of Arts in Economics, Sociology and Maths at Kenyatta University, but had to change my career.
I took several childcare courses such as Baby Care and Childcare Giving courses both in Germany, a High Diploma in Childcare Centre Management in the USA and I’m now pursing two Masters degrees - Master’s in Pedagogy and a Master’s in Research and Management of Social Work both in Germany,” she explains.
Kerry decided to start The Mother Goose Baby Care Kenya in 2013, while she was still residing in Germany.
The Mother Goose Baby Care Kenya is an organisation that offers professional childcare services.
From then, Mother Goose continues to introduce news services to the Kenyan market.
For example, in 2014, the Mother Goose Nanny School was born, which offers childcare courses to nannies, parents, and daycare caregivers. Kerry opines:
“We created the only childcare curriculum now used for training by the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA) and Kenya Youth Employment Opportunities Project (KYEOP) and our goal is to see this childcare course being offered at the diploma level.
In 2018, Mummy Toto Lactation Suite was formed. It offers breastfeeding station solutions in public areas and workplaces.
Kerry offers: “The Mummy Toto Lactation suite idea came as a result of challenges I experienced in 2016 and 2017 when my husband and I with our then 11-month-old-baby had visited Kenya for a period of four months.
I didn’t know that breastfeeding in public or finding a place to change my baby’s diaper would be such an uphill task.
Back in Germany, it was and is not even a question of where to find a bench to sit and breastfeed your child.
Any public place you go to, in Germany, you will always find that the toilets have diaper stations, which is a big contrast in Kenya,”
According to her, the traumatising part for her as a mum came when she travelled to Dar-es- Salaam in Tanzania to set up a workplace daycare centre for a certain company and had to leave her baby with her husband for three days in Kenya.
Not yet there
“I had to learn to stay for hours with full breasts and no place to express the milk.
It is only when I would to return to my hotel room after four to six hours that I could pump the breast milk, something I wasn’t used to,” she explains.
These experiences gave Kerry the idea of making it possible for mothers working or on the move to be able to breastfeed or express their breastmilk at whatever place they may be.
“When I shared with my husband about this idea, he really supported it and that was the much motivation I needed to implement it and start designing the lactation suite that would fit the Kenyan market,” she says.
So far, she has installed lactation suites in public places such as the Two Rivers Mall, Nairobi Terminus Standard Gauge Railway, the Wilson Airport and Mariakani Hospital.
“These are the ones we still manage and maintain. The organisations that have bought the lactation suites for their workers include Kenya Wine Agencies Limited (KWAL), Gertrude Hospital, Crown Paints, Kenya Railways Headquarters and Railways Training Institute,” she reveals.
Kerry says the results have been positive. “Not only are mothers happy, but men also find it to be a great asset.
The shape of the suite, which is formed to look like a breast, is also something that attracts many and the comfort inside is welcoming.
The suite takes up a small space and comes ready to use,” Kerry explains.
Managing the initiative, she says, has been both challenging and an eye opener.
“While designing the Mummy-Toto Lactation suite, I had to travel to Kenya every second month since February 2017 until August 2018 when the last and final product was released to the public.
It was not easy leaving my son behind and stay away from my family for a month, but my husband has been supportive and the sacrifice has been worth it.
Today, I have a great team, hence I don’t have to travel much to Kenya like before,” she says.
However, she believes we are not yet there. “We would want to see it set up in every corner in the streets of Nairobi.
We believe that with enough support from local governments, and the Ministry of Health, Kenya will finally become a breastfeeding friendly and a child friendly society,” she says in ending.