In the Words of Mama Priska

As a part of our Mother’s Day Match Campaign, we sat down with Mama Priska to learn more about what it is like to be a House Mama at the Rift Valley Children’s Village. Having been part of our family for over 15 years, check out Mama Priska’s thoughts on parenthood and the lifelong relationships she has built with our 97 children below! 

How did you first learn about Rift Valley Children’s Village?

The Tanzanian Children’s Fund (TCF) had an office manager who traveled to different villages in our area looking for Mamas. I was invited for an interview and I got the job! When I arrived, we were living in Mama India’s old house. Rehema, who is now 16, had just arrived that day, she was only 1-day old. Doctor, Benja, Lucy, Riziki, Jackie, and little India were there too. There were only 9 kids in the beginning. I took care of the young ones: Edina, Yusufu and Rehema.

What is your favorite part about being a mother at RVCV?

I was a Mama in Manyara House when it was home to very young boys and girls. Then I moved to Serengeti House with just boys who are a bit older. I quickly realized that the same qualities I had showed the younger kids, I applied to the older boys. For instance, I knew if I spent time to cook a really good meal for them, they would eat it and enjoy it, and then I could ask them to clean up. I would teach them the importance of helping around the house and respecting elders.

How have you seen the kids grow physically and emotionally?

The girls I took care of as infants and now they are in Secondary School! They have all of these new behaviors they have learned in school and from friends. In some ways it was easier when the children were younger, but only because the more they begin to grow and change, the more I need to adapt. They know me as the strict Mama, but when they do something good, I want to be the first to compliment them. 

When Rehema, Edina, and Yusufu were young, they were so gullible! They were good babies. Now that I am working with them again, I see that they may be in a teenage phase, but you can see they still have the same personalities as when they were babies. As a baby Yusufu was so calm and quiet, and he is still that way.

How do you balance being such an important person in our kids lives but also having time to be a Mother to your own children?

When I started working in 2004, my parents lived at my home. My twins were 4, and I worked on a rotation with Mama Koko and Mama Maria. I would provide for my kids financially, and my parents would take care of the children when I was away. When my parents began aging and my dad passed away, my mom went to live with my brother, and by that time, my kids were already grown. My daughter Priska received a scholarship from TCF to go to post-secondary school! 

I have also learned things through my work here to help my family life. At Mama India’s old house, we used firewood to cook, then charcoal, and then gas when we moved to the Children’s Village. When I made enough money, I knew that I had to buy gas for my house, because it was the safest and cleanest for my children.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from the kids at Rift Valley Children’s Village?

I have learned how much love I have, and how much new love I have. I realized that with every new child that came into this family, I am capable of loving them so much. I am seeing them grown up and they are now taller than I am, but I still see them as I did when they were crawling on this floor. I still have the love I did for them when I first held them. 

This is a very hard question though; I have been flooded with so many memories today. This family has been a part of my life for so long, it is hard for me to think about this as a job.