21 February 2012

milk share: UN style

Once a year I take a pack teenagers to Nairobi for the Model United Nations conference.

It’s great fun. I enforce curfews, eat in Kenyan mall food courts and help smart kids engage in international debate. But this year I’m still nursing Annaïs, so me and my breast pump have been cruising all over the city.


The trick this year was to find a spot on the UN compound to pump. I figured surely someone would know of a little nook somewhere. Looking around, all I could find were old white men or teenagers. Not the best demographics for helping me find a spot. Finally I found a Kenyan Mama, explained the situation, saw her face light up when she heard of the magical breast pump, and she scouted out quite possibly the most hilariously perfect place ever:

 She thought it was important for me to still be able to watch my students while pumping in the comfort of a private room. So I’ve been using the interpreter’s box several times a day to pump/watch the MUN proceedings. I have a nice agreement with the AV guy who lets come in whenever I want. Turns out even Kenyan men believe there should be a better place at the UN for nursing mothers. He also very helpfully reminds me on a daily basis, “Don't forget to turn the light off so they can’t see through the glass!”

Update—Couldn’t bear wasting all my milk, so I found a few Kenyan mamas who were more than happy to give it to their babies. Even our bus driver asked if he could have some for his little boy. My guess is that the vast majority of people on this earth feel just as comfortable about the sharing of breast milk. Is it just our Western corner that finds this strange?

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