Moms making a difference. – Meet Casey Santiago
After working in Africa for over 10 years, and then at a tech start-up in Silicon Valley, Casey Santiago became a mom of two. Her transition to motherhood compelled her to bring together her professional experiences and personal convictions to found Kangu, the world’s first crowdfunding website for safe births. In some countries, women who live on less than $2/day have no trained help before or during childbirth and as a result have as much as 1 in 10 chance of not surviving their pregnancies. Kangu is changing this by teaming up with medical partners overseas that offer life-saving prenatal and delivery care for as little as $200 per woman. At www.kangu.org, anyone anywhere can search profiles of pregnant women from around the world and contribute $10 or more so that a specific woman gets access to healthcare services that are proven to save the lives of moms and their newborns. Funders receive updates on the specific woman they’ve funded and the chance to make a concrete impact in another woman’s life, and to connect with other globally-minded moms.
1. Do you have balance? Tell us your secrets.
I am playing the long game when it comes to balance. Sometimes I have it, sometimes I don’t – and both have their place. When my kids were newborns there was no balance. When I first launched Kangu.org, there was no balance. But it all seems to even out eventually.
2. How would you describe yourself as a mom?
Like anyone doing something for the first time, I am feeling it out as I go and trying to bring my most patient self to each moment. I am a loving, playful, communicative mom. I try to respect them as little individuals. I have found that more stuff and more activities detract from our daily experience, so I try to keep our lives as simple as possible.
3. Describe your typical day.
We (my husband, two kids and I) all wake up. We get ourselves fed, dressed and out the door. We drop my eldest at school, and then my husband goes to work. I spend time with my daughter until she goes down for a nap. I work until she wakes up and then we pick my son up from school. The three of us come home, play, clean, cook and eat dinner. My husband is home for baths and bedtime. I catch up with him after the kids are down and then I get back to work. Each day, I get in about 8-9 hours of work and time with my kids and my husband.
4. What is the best advice your mom has given you?
My mom has always told me “There’s no such thing as perfection”. As a mom, this advice has helped me tremendously. I try to do my best and accept that that is enough. In my professional life, her advice has helped me be more productive and take more risks, especially as an entrepreneur.
5. What is the best advice you have given to another mother?
Go easy on yourself; you are doing a great job. Also, try to find or create a community around yourself. The best advice comes from other moms, and we need support from each other.
6. What advice would you like to give your child about life?
Go out into the world, explore, and find a way to express and manifest what is important to you, even in the smallest way. And surround yourself with loving people.
7. Do you have any traditions with your children?
We have many religions in our family, and are New Yorkers, so we celebrate a lot of holidays. It always seems to revolve around family and food (and if we’re lucky a parade!) I am also trying to create meaningful daily traditions, like giving thanks for the food before dinner and talking each day about a part of the day that we liked and a part that we didn’t like.
8. What strength do you want to pass on to your kids?
I hope my kids remain curious and open to the world. I’ve learned the most about myself by interacting with people who have led very different lives than me. I also hope to foster in them the strength to push forward when they are afraid, overwhelmed or just unsure.
9. Did you like being pregnant? Be honest!
The first time was hard. I felt alienated from my body and scared. The second time around, I was less focused on myself and less fearful, and I just thought about it less because I had a toddler to take care of. I enjoyed my second pregnancy because I knew what an amazing thing was happening in my body, and that it would be the last time.
10. Do you think business trips are vacations?
Yes! They are wonderful.
11. Are you a guilty mom?
No. It takes up too much energy and is not constructive. It’s one of the many distracting things that I’ve just let go.
12. What is your secret to your social life after having kids?
My social life has certainly changed – like everything, it is more focused. My relationships are fewer but deeper. They are now based on building a community for our family. I work with amazing women on a cause that we are passionate about, so that becomes an outlet for socializing too.
13. What is the toughest thing you have had to talk to your kids about?
My kids are still young so it has been easy so far. My son has asked about how babies are made and divorce, but seems satisfied with our basic answers.
14. What is one thing that would make you feel better today?
My kids slept in and we just had a dance party, so in my book it has been a great day. Speaking to my best friend and my mom, both of whom I have not connected with recently, would make it even better.
15. What city would you like to visit with your kids and why?
I’d love to take my kids to Dakar, Senegal in West Africa. It is a beautiful city where many people live like we do and many people live very differently. I’d love my kids to see that.
Bonus question: How do you handle your kids when they misbehave in public?
Our response changes as the kids change, and of course something that works one day does not work the next. Recently, with my eldest, a very quiet conversation seems to do the trick. My husband’s whisper never fails. I find staying calm helps, and not caring about what other people think.
As I mentioned, I think being part of a community is so important for moms and new moms in particular. That’s one of the reasons I’ve created Kangu. To join a community of moms helping other moms around the world have safe births and healthy babies, please check us out at www.kangu.org.