Crèche at the coffee farm

“There are many many children here during high season. We have to work extra hours. We have to wait for them in the evening to do the measuring of the coffee. It is hectic then, but it is good that we are around.” Catherine Wanjiku Njoroge, Nurse, Kofinaf

Kofinaf is a large coffee grower in Kenya, with over 6,000 temporary workers on the plantations during season. The company has a crèche on each plantation where workers can leave their children during work hours.

“We have put in a lot of money and effort into the crèches, so that they can be areas of attraction for the work force,” Hassan M. Ndisho, Human Resource Manager at Kofinaf says. “Children are now being fed healthy meals, there are medical attention and good care giving in these places. It is very important for the parents, so when they leave their children there, they feel confident to work.”

“In the coffee industry, having crèches is not a new thing, it has been around for the last 100 years. It started during the first world war as a way of trying to keep children safe and it developed as a way for children to be taken care of while their mothers and fathers work in the farms.”

“Many people think that providing food and things to a crèche is very expensive for an organisation, but in fact it is not. If you have a young mother working here and her child is at home being taken care of by someone – that young worker will not be able to concentrate on work. So it goes directly to the productivity,” Hassan says.

Although it is not coffee picking season yet, the crèche at Kofinaf is full of children. Catherine Wanjiku Njoroge is the company nurse, she started working for Kofinaf in 2001. 

“This is a coffee plantation, it is very hard to work with a child on your back when you are picking coffee, so the parents are very happy about this crèche,” Catherine Wanjiku Njoroge says.

The crèche at Kofinaf normally takes children from three months to three years. There is a play school in the primary school from 3-6 years and after that they join the company’s primary school. 

“The parents come here very early in the morning, around six, and leave their children in the care of the caretakers in the crèche. The caretakers also live in the labour camps here on the plantation, so they are not new people to them so they trust that they take good care of their children.”

“We do a lot of the government programmes here – we do the de-worming; we also give them multivitamins. Children are also fed a balanced diet in the crèche. Here they get at least two meals a day that are ok, at home they might not get such healthy food,” Catherine says.

Regina Nyakinyua Kibinge is breastfeeding her youngest daughter at the company crèche. She has worked for Kofinaf for seven years. Mothers can leave their children at the crèche and come and feed their babies on special breaks.

“Here we feel so good,” Regina says. “You wake up in the morning, you bring your child to the crèche no problem, you go to work feeling comfortable. At ten you are given time to come and breastfeed and then again at one o’clock. When I come here I feel that my baby is so good, because they take care of her. They even change her when she is wet. Even when I am in the fields I don’t worry for her. I feel so satisfied.”

Hassan M. Ndisho, the Human Resource Manager, recognises many of the things the Children’s Rights and Business Principles address:

“I went through the 10 principles and I found that we are almost working in all these fields already.”

“The welfare of your workers is a core business issue, this you must understand as a company. You also need to consider their children, because they are part of the workers that are reliant on you. If you don’t take care of the children, definitely there will be a direct effect on productivity.”