An interview with Mama Pendo

Earlier this week, one of our lovely staff members- Christina, interviewed
the Head Mama of Nkoaranga Orphanage – a wonderful and most remarkable woman,
Mama Pendo. Read on to find out more about how she came to work at the
orphanage and of her inspirational personal views about the children and the
changes that Nkoaranga has seen over the years. We hope that you will share our
appreciation of such a kind-hearted lady! 
Mama Pendo and her little Angel. Mama Pendo is often referred to as Bibi Angel as their relationship is particularly special! (Angel may have just woken up from a nice nap when this photo was taken!) 
    • “So, Mama Pendo, how long have you been
      working at Nkoaranga Orphanage?”
    26 years – since March 1988!
    • “Wow! Please tell us about your role as a
      Mama at the Orphanage. What does it involve?”
    General mama duties include changing, playing with the children and
    singing to them, bathing them each morning, feeding them, taking them to
    hospital whenever they get sick, exercise, teaching them to talk, encouraging
    them to stand and eventually to walk!

    As head mama, I write jobs each week for other mamas, buy food for the
    children, watch over everything at the orphanage to prevent and resolve any
    problems, report issues going on with children at the orphanage and
    communicates with the families of the children.

    Mama Pendo feeding Angel – just one of the many daily routines at the Orphanage

    • “How has Nkoaranga Orphanage changed over
      the time you have worked here?”
    “It has changed totally!” It
    was very small before, with only seven children. The house had only two rooms!
    There was not enough food or clothes for the children and there were no shoes
    at all when it started to become overcrowded. There were not even any nappies
    so children went to the bathroom on the floor and it always smelled. Sadly,
    people did not like to work there or even go there. 

    Now, however, everyone comes to ask for a job because it is such a good place!
    It is “nice like Europe or the US!” The orphanage
    has grown in both structure and support and the children have more resources
    and a better life. 

    • “Why did you decide to work at the
    Ever since I was a child, I “liked to take care of the babies”. I always knew I wanted to work with children and so I went through Irente childcare
    training, which is where many of the orphanage’s most experienced Mama’s have
    been trained. 

    I told the father of Doctor Sam that I would like a job at the orphanage
    and he agreed because they were in great need of trained nannies. 

    Once I began working at the orphanage, I immediately started to make
    recommendations and suggest changes to better the conditions in which the
    children were living. 

    Mama Pendo singing and playing with Isaac and Angel

    • “Do you have children of your own? If so,
      how many?”
    I have three of my own children and have also taken in several from the orphanage. One of my children from the orphanage, Grace, is now 19 years old. Grace’s
    mother died after delivery and she stayed at the orphanage for two years. Her
    father came to take her home but when I visited Grace, she had
    terrible diarrhea and was very sick because her family was so poor. So, we brought her back to the orphanage. I eventually took her in to give
    her the attention and the love she needed.
    • “What are you interested in or like doing
      when you are not working at the Orphanage?”
    I care for my children, shop for them and cook for my whole family among other general chores. I also have to take care of
    the farm by feeding the cows.
    I like to be with my children in order to “teach them about
     when they are not in boarding school. 

    A note from the interviewer, Christina: “It is clear that
    Mama Pendo’s life is fully and completely devoted to children – both her own
    and those at the orphanage. She had to think hard about this question – I don’t
    think she ever takes a moment to think about herself!”

    • “What is the best part about your
    I like to teach the children about religion and faith and encourage them to be good people. I love to see them grow and, now, see them so happy
    and healthy after spending so many years watching the children struggle. The
    best thing is the future for the children – “I like to think about the
    future for the children…when they grow up”.  
    I hope that the
    children now have the support and ability to grow up and receive a good
    education, learning to solve their problems themselves.

    Mama Pendo with other staff member and children at the Happy Family Children’s Village ribbon cutting ceremony. A proud and exciting moment for all!

    • Do you have any special or funny memories from your time working here?”
    My happiest
    memories of the orphanage are seeing the children now. It used
    to be a very hard life for the babies but now they are very happy and have a
    good life.

    • “Do you have a message for the people
      around the world who support and donate towards the development of
      Nkoaranga Orphanage and the Pilot House?”
    “I would say thank
    you very much and God bless them. They are doing a good, good, and nice job.
    God will bless them for helping another life.”
    • “Is there anything else you would like to
      add or tell us about?”
    I am “very happy” because, for most of my time at the orphanage, “it was like I was carrying big luggage.” In
    the past, I never knew what would happen to the children after they left the
    orphanage and I worried about them going to boarding school, which is why I took in so many children of my own. Thanks to The Small
    Things, I finally feel relief.

    A note from the interviewer, Christina: Mama Pendo spoke a lot
    about the importance of family, and of the children having family as they
    develop and go through life. She stressed that boarding school is not good for
    young children because they miss out on a lot of things in life. While they get
    a good education, they do not get to experience a lot of other things that
    children should experience and learn about. That is 
    why she is so “happy for The Small Things,” because
    now, her idea of The Children’s Village and Pilot House arrangement is finally
    becoming reality. It is finally like the children are home.

    An inspirational woman who has been a huge part of the development and positive change of Nkoaranga. We are so happy to be working alongside her!  
    For more information on the work we do at The Small Things  and how you can get involved, please click here.

    Disclaimer: With the exception of the quoted phrases, the responses to the interviewer’s questions are based on the interviewer’s notes taken during the interview. They may not be exactly how Mama Pendo phrased them but represent true facts spoken by Mama Pendo.