The struggle, fortunes of desperate house helps of Kawangware

August 18, 2016 3:11 pm
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Women from different parts of Nairobi converge and sit on stones (mawe) waiting for household day jobs/FRANCIS MBATHA
Women from different parts of Nairobi converge and sit on stones (mawe) waiting for household day jobs/FRANCIS MBATHA

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 18 – As early as 6am, Ebby Makangu leaves her house in Nairobi’s Kawangware to report to her place of work.

It takes her about one hour to leave the densely populated slum.

Whereas every worker at least has an idea of where they will work for the day, Makangu has no clue where her work will take her to.

The only office she is sure about is the one at Mawe.

The place is known as Mawe Bangladesh.

Women from different parts of Nairobi converge and sit on stones (mawe) waiting for household day jobs.

“Sometimes you can stay the whole day or even week without getting a job. If we are unlucky we go home without anything.”

Makangu is a single mother of four.

We visited her at her humble home in Muslem in Kawangware.

A stench of a stagnated drainage system, open sewers and piles of rotten waste seemed to be the normalcy as toddlers and older children played freely around them.

Makangu lives in a one roomed house with her four children.

“We go through a very rough life. We miss so many meals because we have not money to buy food. That’s why we have to squeeze in this tiny room. I have not paid rent for two months now and it’s hard to get the jobs,” Makangu explained.
On the other side of Kawangware, at Lenjo Maria, lives Kenesezia Khangali who is a mother of seven.

She is also a member of Mawe Bangladesh.

“I live a very difficult life. Like you can see we share this small room with all my seven kids and my two grandchildren. Sometimes we sleep hungry especially on days that we don’t get jobs. I can even go for three weeks without getting the day jobs.”

The two never had the opportunity to go to school. All their life, the slum has been their livelihood.

After decades of aging and suffering with dim hopes for the future, Makangu and Khangali saw some light in the most unexpected way.

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