What is your biggest stress as a parent? For me, it is the fear of letting my children down. The thought of my children lacking anything that they need is absolutely terrifying.
In February this year, I had one such encounter that really put me in a stressful position. My son Baraka, who is in Grade 6, came home one evening and as usual, we started working on his homework together.
After we were done with the mathematical questions, we moved into Social Studies. However, before we could move to the second question, Baraka asked me if I was sure I did not want to wait for his father to help with the rest of the questions.
“What is wrong my boy? We always do this homework together because your dad works till late and by the time he gets home, he will be too tired.” I posed.
It was then that he gave me the heartbreaking news. The previous day, they had been asked to indicate the name of the United Nations Secretary-General. I had mistakenly spelt the name as Antony Ngutesi (instead of Antonio Guterres) as Baraka was doing his homework.
Kids being kids, made fun of his response. Now, I am way past the age where my vernacular accent affects my confidence. However, the thought of my boy feeling humiliated because of my mistake was heartbreaking.
It was particularly stressful for me as a few days earlier, Pendo had gone to school without doing her homework. They had been asked to make an abacus and carry it to class the next day.
I had never heard of the word abacus so I wrote a note asking the teacher to expound if there was an error in the homework assignment.
I would later learn that it was actually a simple device that is used to teach children basic mathematics. CBC has shown me things, I tell you.
You are probably wondering why I couldn't confirm the name if I was helping with the assignment, Google is our friend in the 21st century, right?
Unfortunately for me, I did not have a smartphone. In fact, as of February this year, I had been operating on a kabambe for over a year.
Here is my story.
I trained as a hotelier and for the larger part of my adult life, I rose through the ranks to become a housekeeping manager at a four-star hotel. Then the pandemic came and our entire livelihood as we knew it was turned upside down.
At first, we were sent home and hit with a 50% pay cut. Then in May 2020, we were informed that there would be no pay or work until signs of resuming normalcy - whatever that meant.
My husband is self-employed - he sells solar products. His business remained open although it was hit by slow sales. In the first two months, I spent most of my time at home looking after the kids - confident that this cloud would pass.
However, by the third month, our savings were severely depleted. The frequent lockdowns and the delays at the port were also hurting my husband’s business.
We had no choice but to relocate from Kasarani to Ruiru where we got a two-bedroom that was significantly cheaper in terms of rent.
With my experience in the hotel industry, we decided to open a local cafe that would keep me busy and bring in some income. At this point, I was still hopeful that I would resume work sooner than later. The cafe is located about a hundred metres from our new house. This allows me more time to interact with the kids.
I normally prepare them for school and open the cafe at around 9am - after completing the house chores. There isn’t really a market for early breakfast.
Most of my clients are informal factory workers who leave their houses full. However, between 11am and 3pm, I have great business as they come down for lunch. I close the hotel at around 3pm and walk home in time for my kids to be dropped from school.
Sometime in July 2021, I was having a stressful day at work, and as I was boiling water to prepare rice, my beloved smartphone accidentally fell into the cooking pot.
Now, my small cafe has decent revenue. But my bills are also quite high. My husband pays the rent and the school fees while I pay for the daily household expenses.
While I cannot exactly say I am a broke woman, for 17 months, I was not able to save enough to replace my beloved smartphone.
Slowly, I got used to the kabambe and suspended plans of buying a better phone. But CBC was now a constant reminder that I needed a smartphone.
My children deserve the best, even in bad financial times, I am a determined mother. A few days later, I was relaxing with my husband as we usually do on Sundays.
I often use his phone to keep up with the online world. I was checking prices for the Tecno Spark 10C so I can know what amount to work with as I planned on setting a special savings kitty for a new device.
As I was researching on Google, I landed on the Mogo Kenya website where the concept of smartphone financing was explained.
This is a summary of how this arrangement works. You go to the Mogo Kenya website and make an application using your ID.
Once your application is accepted, you can pick your brand-new smartphone at one of Mogo’s branches, have it delivered to you in Nairobi, or pick it up at select stores.
Instead of paying the full amount, you pay a small down payment and clear the balance in weekly instalments of as low as Ksh550.
This felt like music to my eyes. My plan had been to save for about a year. This meant tolerating the CBC parenting that was becoming a crisis in my household from Monday to Friday.
However, with the smartphone loan, I would get to own the phone immediately and direct the money I intended to save as weekly instalments.
Since March 1st, which also happened to be my birthday, I have been a proud owner of a Techno Spark 10 C. I not only started a new year, but I also began a stress-free lifestyle after saying goodbye to the stress of having my kids face embarrassment because of mistakes in their CBC assignments.
I now use Google to confirm difficult answers and spellings. I have also downloaded a number of apps that my kids use to enhance their learning, what a world!
Having a smartphone has also opened my eyes to opportunities that I never even knew existed. I have added Mama Baraka’s Kitchen to online food delivery apps which have increased my sales and my margins.
I have used the extra income to increase my weekly instalments for the smartphone loan. This will allow me to clear my balance earlier and save some money in the process. This is because with the Mogo SmartPhone Loan, early repayment is allowed with no penalties - hence you save on interest.
What is a mother’s love? I saw this question on a social media post as we were having dinner on Mother’s Day last month. I couldn’t exactly define the extent to which I love my Baraka and Pendo so I asked my husband about his thoughts on the extent of a mother’s love.
“A mother’s love for her children and a child’s love for their parents should be inconceivable. If you are able to arrive at the limits of your love for them, there is probably a problem,” he told me in his ever-assuring tone.
This is what I see and feel when I see my Techno Spark C, and if you are wondering, I keep it safe so I don't drop it in my cooking pot again.