People

Irma’s haven for little ones

Irma’s haven for little ones

Not many women have the guts to make a drastic career change in their fifties. Professional photographer Irma Palm did. And she loves it!

After more than ten years in the corporate world, and then 17 years behind a camera lens, Irma Palm from Hartbeespoort decided now was the time to finally follow her passion … and she opened a nursery school. “I know it sounds strange, but all through my life I cared for people and wanted to help. I came from a unique family – one of nine children who were taught about caring from the crib. My father did missionary work and my mother gave her heart and soul to Hospice.  And that was where my search started – I was looking for a place or situation where I could make a difference,” Irma says. “After I was married and had four children of our own, my husband and I applied to become foster parents, and we even considered adoption. All through my life I was looking for something to make a difference in people and children’s lives, but I could never quite find the right vehicle. Until now.” “This is not just a nursery school. This is the little ones’ home from home and I aim to be the mother they can turn to when mom is not here. We operate as a family and try to give the children the security they find at home. And I love seeing them flourish in the homely atmosphere,” she says. Irma initially studied to become a teacher. “But I lasted just one day,” she laughs. Then she saw a business opportunity and went into marketing. For over ten years I was busy, busy, busy. When I decided to leave the industry, I had 600 people working under me. It took a serious car accident to make me realise life is too short to be on the road all the time and that I needed to spend more time with my family. So, I took up the camera.” For the next 17 years she built up a successful photography business and thought this was maybe it. “But something was still niggling. I still had the urge to make a difference in people’s lives. With the photography, I was making memories for other people. I needed to make memories for myself.” When her husband died three years ago, Irma suddenly had clarity. She decided to open a nursery school when her youngest left school. And that is what she did. “I was so busy while my children were growing up and I know exactly what women go through when they have to leave their children in care while they work. I want these children to have a second home here, and the mothers to know that. We do everything together here. Everyone plays together, help prepare food, learn and love together. And the children thrive. I think I am on the right path and I am loving it. It is so rewarding to see how they respond. I am playing mom when their moms can’t. And I want the mothers to know their children are loved and cared for, because I know how difficult it is to leave your child in someone else’s care.” Irma is still doing photography on the side but also uses it to involve the parents in their children’s home from home. “I document activities and milestones and share them with the parents. Do you realise how many children say their first words, take their first steps, at nursery school. I don’t want the parents to miss this.” She is currently developing an application that will enable parents to be updated about what is happening at school. Has she found what she has been searching for? “Yes! I am finally where I want to be, where I can help and make a difference in a child’s life. I can give them security and love at a very crucial time in their lives. Finally, I am making the difference I always wanted to make.”

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