Real Mum Interview: Programme Officer, Fanta Kamakate
MumsVillage had an opportunity to interview Fanta Kamakate during her layover in Nairobi on her parenting experience, how she balances having a career and being a mum as well as her support system.
What’s your occupation?
I’m a Programme officer for a US- based foundation that gives grants and support to NGOs, academics and organizations around the world tackling different environmental issues. I lead the climate and energy programme and I work with people and organizations seeking solutions to climate change.
Do you have any kids?
Yes. Two kids.
What are their ages?
My son Joaquin is almost 11 years old and my daughter Amina is 8 years old.
How do you balance motherhood, career and traveling?
I am very lucky to have a spouse who is supportive of my career, and I’m also supportive of his career as well. We work as a team. My parents also live close to where I live and help out quite a bit especially when I travel.
How has motherhood been for you?
It’s probably the most amazing journey of my life. I have learned so much from being a mother and continue to learn everyday. Motherhood has brought out a lot of good things in me. I have learned how strong, patient and learned how committed I can be.
What’s the character trait you never knew you had until being a mother?
Patience. I did not know that I was a patient person. With my children I have been able to be really patient.
Is there any way that your childhood has impacted how you bring out your kids?
Yes. I grew up in Ivory Coast and currently reside in the US. The environment that my kids are brought up in, is very different from the environment that I grew up in. However, there are many things that I’m able to share with them from my childhood. For example; eating dinner together every night, family outings during the weekend, and eating the food that I grew up eating are some of the important aspects that I am able to share with them.
Do you know how to cook traditional Ivorian dishes?
Yes I do. Only the ones I like. (Chuckles)
We Like Numbers
How many countries have you been to?
A little over 20 countries.
How many countries across the continent?
Seven countries in Africa.
Do you have any siblings
I am the oldest of four. I have younger twin brothers and a younger sister.
How many selfies do you take in a week?
I almost never take selfies. I’m too old. (laughs).
How many photos of your children do you take?
Two to three per week.
Share Your Tips With Others
What was your biggest challenge as a new mum?
Lack of sleep. The realization of the magnitude of the responsibility was challenging. Breastfeeding was also a little bit more work than I expected.
What are the tips you can give to a mum facing breastfeeding challenges?
Talk to an expert. Talk to a nurse or a lactation specialist to make sure you are doing it correctly.
Now on to Other Fun Questions
What’s your current read?
Emergence Strategies by adriemne marie brown. It’s about taking lessons from nature to create more equitable movements for social and environmental justice.
Favourite activity to unwind?
Running, cooking and listening to music. I like Ivorian Music and RnB.
Favourite childhood memory?
The first time your child looks at you and they recognise you as their mum.
Anything from your childhood that your children missed?
I used to play outside. Leave in the morning, come back lunch hour, leave and come back in the evening. It’s not the same with my kids. Play has to be scheduled. They can play in the backyard but it’s not the same. The mango season is something else! There are mangoes in America but they’re never as good.
How did you choose your children’s names?
Both my children have one name from my culture and one name from my husband’s culture. My son’s name is Joaquin and his middle name is Souleymane. My daughter’s name is Amina and her middle name is Flor. In my family, we have the same names; children are named after previous generations.
It takes a village to bring up a child, who are your go to people in case of anything?
My parents, my siblings and my friends from college.
What recreational activities does your family indulge in?
My family likes going on runs together on the weekend around the lake. We live near a lake. Both my kids play soccer and my husband is the soccer coach of my son’s soccer team. In addition, we love going out to eat.
How has it been being an Ivorian Mum in the States?
I lived in the States for a number of years before having children so I was already used to it. I noticed the difference more when I took my kids back home.The society in Ivory Coast is more focused on children more than the society in the States. Every where people buy them treats, welcome them and they feel very special in a way that’s different in the US.
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