INTERVIEW: MALENE HUMMEL / TRANSLATION: RENA FÖHR & EOGHAN WALSH
Silvia Bulali is a 25-year-old peer educator trained by DSW Kenya. She teaches young people about sexual health and contraception. Today, Silvia tells us about Kenyan Mother’s Day traditions and how it is being a mother in her country.
Silvia, how is Mother’s Day celebrated in Kenya?
Silvia: we show our mothers that we love and appreciate them, and we like to do that in many different ways: through letters, small gifts, and via social media. We post pictures with our amazing mums on Facebook. Those who have lost their mothers post photos with the relatives who raised them.
What have you planned for Mother’s Day this year?
Silvia: I want to surprise my mum, buy her dress and take her to a nice restaurant. Also, I’ll give her a greeting card and flowers.
Do you imagine celebrating Mother’s Day the same way once you’re a mum yourself?
Silvia: That depends on my kids, but I would be very happy to! However, I imagine my family situation will be a bit different from my mum’s. I grew up with five brothers in Korogocho, a slum in Nairobi. My brothers respect me for being tough and strong, but six kids are a lot! I want to have just two. Unlike my mother, I can decide the number and spacing of my children, as I have full access to contraceptives. My boyfriend and I plan to marry soon and once I complete my studies, I would like to have my first child, maybe in a year or two.
What if your children ask why they don’t have more siblings?
Then I would tell them that they are the centre of my life and that I want to give them as much love and time as possible. I imagine that much more challenging if you have a lot of kids. I want to provide my children everything they need, including a good house and health care. Also, it is extremely important for me that they get access to quality education and can develop their own particular talents.
How do you imagine the role of your future husband in parenting?
Silvia: I hope he will play an active part, like taking the kids to school, to doctor’s appointments, or weekend trips in nature. In my opinion, couples should share the task of child rearing.
What message would you like to give to all girls and young women today?
Silvia: I think motherhood can be amazing – if you are ready for it. You need to plan your family and make sure that you have the capacity to care for your children. That is why contraception is so important when you are sexually active but don’t want children yet. Unfortunately, not all young women have access to, or information about, contraception. This is why I became an advocate for sexual and reproductive rights of young people. They need to be empowered to make their own decisions about their bodies.
And what is your message for the mothers?
Silvia: Thank you that you endure so much while raising us children! Thank you for your dedication, for your strength to master everything even when it’s not easy, and most importantly, for all the love you give us. We love you, not only on Mother’s Day, but everyday!
Find out more about DSW’s training programme for peer educators like Silvia here.