The Women who Raise my Children with me
Thursday, December 21, 2017
The biggest misconception at Kopila is that I do everything on my own. I work hard, long days but I think that sometimes I get a little bit too much mommy credit. Our children are who they are because of the communal team of people who surround them. Mothering is a village effort here at Kopila. Sometimes I feel selfish for wearing the mommy title. The truth is that I would be nothing without the tribe around me.
This is a post for the didis (“big sisters”) and aunties who are here every minute of every day gently guiding, caregiving, and nurturing our children. They are also here when I get frustrated and have to walk away, when I’m traveling, when I’m sick, and when I work a twelve hour day and barely see the kids from morning to night. I feel like the best gift I can give my children is surrounding them with amazing people who they can look up to and who can give them all the things I can’t.
I basically blink my eyes and breakfast and dinner are on the table, the kids are fed, and the house is clean every morning. I try to never, even for a minute take for granted how lucky I am to have them, but still, I probably don’t say it enough. A few months ago, our core caregiving team was off for the holidays and it made me realize even more how much this home and our family rely on them. They are my everything.
Aakriti is the head Children’s Home coordinator. She organizes family activities, takes care of sick kids, helps with homework and daily operations, and makes sure absolutely everything in our home with 50+ children is running smoothly. What I love about her is how patient she is. She’s a really good listener. I notice everyone gravitates to her when they have a problem or are feeling sad and that brings me a lot of comfort. She’s so gentle and loving.
I call Ubji the chief executive auntie. She’s such a boss! She’s always at home, always around the kitchen, guiding meals and snacks for the kids. She’s been here from day one and we often sit and reminisce about the early days when it was just the two of us and so many kids. What I love about her is that she always looks out for me. When I’m busy and skip a meal or I’ve had a tough night with the kids, she’ll appear with a cup of tea, remind me to eat and bring me a fresh bowl of fruit. She has the most amazing motherly instincts.
I always say Amrika, one of our Home aunties, holds up half of Kopila. She does all the heavy lifting and is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met. She cleans, sweeps, organizes and manages the kitchen. I feel like our household falls apart when she’s gone. I try to tell her how much I appreciate her every day. I’m like, “Amrika, what would I do without you?!!” She always responds, “This is my home too, Maggie. These are our kids. How could I not work this hard?” What I love about her is that she has the best sense of humor. She is literally always laughing and smiling.
Basanti makes dinner every single night, six nights a week for about 70 of us. She loves to cook and her food tastes so good. She makes the best chicken soup, chutney, and vegetable dishes I’ve ever tasted. We always say that she should make her own cookbook.
Sukma and Bishna are new to the team. They came on to help us with our recent influx of babies and toddlers. They love our little ones as if they are their own. They feed, change diapers, potty train, night nurse, and get the little ones off to school in the morning. I love the way they always sing to the babies and keep them clean and cozy and warm. The little ones’ faces light up when they see them.
Amrita is our security guard. She watches over the house, knows everything that’s happening, and where everyone is. She makes sure any visitors are logged and recorded and wear a visitor badge. She signs out the kids when they go to the market for an errand, to the community playground, and to and from school. The kids can’t get away with any mischief with Amrita at the gate.
There’s also a team of program directors, tutors, teachers, and counselors, not to mention Sachyam, Tope and the uncles. I’ll save them for another post!