offended, then that's their problem and not mine.” Ms Gatere is of the opinion that a couple can still love each other deeply without children being in the picture. “I was in a committed relationship for five years and both of us were fine with a future without children. I am currently trying to dip my feet back into the dating pool, and I always ensure that the fact that I don't want children makes it into the conversation on my first dates,” she says.
Though she admits that she loves being around children, she says that she cannot see herself spending all her time with and dedicating her life to her children. “I have two nieces, one nephew and two younger siblings who fill my life with joy. With an income that doesn't have the burden of a family attached to it, I can be able to support less fortunate children such as orphans and also serve as a role model,” she explains.
Another person who looks at life through the same prism as Tarurî Gatere is a lady who goes by the simplified version of her name, Jenifer J. An American citizen, Jenifer has lived and worked in Nairobi since 2011. Jenifer works as a Christian missionary. Her job as a volunteer chaplain sees her shuttle through the several paediatric wards across the country ministering to children who are battling cancer.
“I love children so much,” Jenifer says, “My job involves being around kids all day long. In all the hospitals that I minister in, the kids refer to me as the ‘Hospital Mama'. I have just never had the desire to have children of my own.”
Jenifer explains that she realised at a very tender age that if she were ever to give birth, the child would require a lot of love, sacrifice and time from her, something she did not feel she was ready to give. “I enjoy my freedom and not having children allows me to travel and do my work as a missionary, giving hope to others,” she says.
“My family has always been supportive of my decision. In fact, my mother knew that I wouldn't want to raise children of my own long before I even considered the decision,” She adds. Jenifer, who is at the cusp of turning 40, explains that in her country, making the decision not have kids is not seen as an oddity as it is here in Kenya. She says, “Kenyans are very shocked when they learn that I don't have kids and I don't intend to. In the US this is normal.” Indeed, in the US, the fertility rate, or number of children each woman is expected to have, stood at 1.76 in 2017. Asked whether, as a Christian, she is aware of the Bible verse that commands people to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth”, Jenifer says that if God really wanted her to have children, He would have given her the desire. She also reveals that she usually ignores people trying to slight her and prays for them instead.
“My family has a history of genetic issues such as alcoholism, depression, congenital heart defects and multiple sclerosis. I wouldn't want to pass these on to my children. However, even if I were perfectly healthy, I still wouldn't want to beget children,” She continues.
Though she has not taken a vow of celibacy, Jenifer reveals that at present, she also has no desire to get married or get into a long-term relationship. Jenifer is adamant that at 80, when she looks back at life that she's led without a marital partner or offspring, she will still be content with the work she has done on earth and by how she has touched other peoples' hearts.
While both Gatere and Jenifer deny that their intention to save money is behind their decision, Data Scientist Chris Orwa says the sums spent on raising a child can be usurious when one factors in health related costs, food, clothing, shelter, entertainment and education.
He however notes that the ‘opportunity cost' lost when one decides to have children, though it cannot be measured in monetary value, will impact more on the parents. “These are the things which parents give-up when they make a decision to have children. It is an invisible cost but I believe it the greatest "cost" bore by parents. Folks who decide not to have children don't want to bear this cost,” Chris Orwa says.
A child plays with toys in the outdoors. Ms Taruri Gatere (pictured left) decided never to have babies, citing challenges of bringing them up as one of her reasons.