What you need to know:
- Ms Makumbo has not been enjoying the rights and privileges given by the government as she is always referred to as non-Kenyan because of her lack of identification documents.
- Kenya Human Rights Commission said the agency is working to ensure that the government eradicates statelesness by issuing identification documents to deserving people.
- The state has already granted citizenship to the Makonde and Nubian communities.
It has now been 40 years since Ms Rose Makumbo came to Kenya from Tanzania. She hardly remembers who brought her into the country.
The 45-year-old, found herself homeless at the border town of Taveta in Taita-Taveta in 1977 after the woman she came to visit abandoned her.
"All I remember is that I used to sleep in the cold and wellwishers used to give me food," she says.
She says she escaped from her country after her extended family abandoned her following the death of her parents and siblings. She says she was left with no home and no one to take care of her.
After spending a week in the cold, a woman offered to take her to her home on condition that she would help her with house chores and babysit her young baby.
"I only knew my first name, the family gave me the second name because I could not remember my names well," she said.
For five years, Ms Makumbo worked with no pay. After asking for a salary, her host agreed to pay her Sh100 monthly.
"After working for 11 years, I got married to my employer's nephew at 16 years. I moved from Taveta to Mwatate where I live with my husband and children," she says.
Forty years later, she knows no other place to call home except her marital home in Mzwanenyi village.
She says marriage has not been a bed of roses either. She is forced to endure a lot because she has nowhere to go and no one to turn to.
Her eyes full of tears, she says she has never known peace since her childhood and the situation has been worsened by her statelesness.
She breaks down in tears as she recounts what she goes through on a daily basis as a stateless person.
She has not been enjoying the rights and privileges given by the government as she is always referred to as non-Kenyan because of her lack of identification documents.
Cannot own anything
Ms Makumbo says she is unable to access basic services like education and healthcare or acquiring formal employment and owning property.
"I cannot own anything. Most of the time I am sidelined because they say I am not a citizen of this country. This is so painful," she says.
Due to poverty and restrictions caused by lack of identification documents, she is also unable to seek treatment in public health facilities whenever she is sick.
"Recently I fell ill but I could not get treatment at a public hospital. Wellwishers fundraised to help me get healthcare in a private hospital. I buy medicine from pharmacies whenever I get sick because I cannot be treated in hospitals," she said.
She has also not been fortunate to get an education. She dropped out of her adult education classes at Mzwanenyi primary school for lack of an identity card to enrol for the final examination.
"Life has not been easy due to my lack of identification documents. I have suffered all my life," she said.
She has five children but has no hope of a better life since she is unable to engage in any income-generating activity to help her children. Without an identity card, she cannot open a bank account, register her mobile phone sim card, acquire business permits, move freely, or even register for mobile banking.
"I have been discriminated against since my childhood. I feel cursed. I wish the government could help me get an ID," she said.
It is estimated that there are more than 20,000 stateless persons in Kenya from various communities which include Rwanda, Pemba, Watha, Shona, Burundi, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Congo, and Zambia. Some of them are descendants of migrant workers who came to Kenya during the colonial era. Ms Makumbo is among 7,500 stateless persons in Taita-Taveta County.
Kenya Human Rights Commission's programme manager for Identify and Inclusion, Ms Diana Gichengo, said the commission is working to ensure that the government eradicates statelesness by issuing identification documents to deserving people.
The state has already granted citizenship to the Makonde and Nubian communities.
Ms Gichengo was speaking in Mwatate when the commission's officials met over 65 stateless persons from Rwanda who came into the country to work at the Taita Sisal Estate.
"We are working to help them get some stipend to cushion them from the effects of Covid-19 because they were left out by the government," she said.