What you need to know:
- Wanga is one of the thousands of Kenyan families whose livelihoods were taken away by Covid-19.
- For two years, she had been running a food kiosk outside Muthurwa market.
- But the food businesses were ordered shut to minimise the risk of infections.
Desperate faces greet you when you enter Judith Wanga’s home in High Ridge, Korogocho.
In the cramped tin shelter, Wanga and her children, aged between nine months and 18 years, sit quietly hoping for a miracle that will assure them of dinner. Constant silence haunts the household, occasionally interrupted by long yawns.
Wanga is one of the thousands of Kenyan families whose livelihoods were taken away by Covid-19.
For five months now, each day has been a brutal fight for survival for the single mother.
Life may not have had a pleasure cruise before the coronavirus started, but Wanga says she was able to fend for her family.
For two years, she had been running a food kiosk outside Muthurwa market, but the food businesses were ordered shut to minimise the risk of infections.
With the closure went the only livelihood for her family. Because of her age — she is 39 — Wanga says she couldn’t get work with the Kazi Mtaani programme.
The government employment programme targets jobless youth aged 18 and 35.
Pushed to the brink of starvation, Wanga decided to look for menial jobs in the neighbourhood.
‘‘I’ve been doing laundry for my neighbours for five months now. Sometimes I clean their houses and dishes too. Whatever I can do to feed my children,’’ Wanga told the Nation.
Such jobs, she added, pay between Sh100 and Sh200, money that is delicately budgeted to cater for food, water and other expenses. Still, Wanga has to save up a portion for a rainy day.
These jobs aren’t easy to find either. Many people who were working before have been rendered jobless, and now look for anything to do just to feed their families.
‘‘There are days when I go back home empty-handed. On some days, I sit in the house with nothing to do,’’ she said, noting that her family has been surviving by the skin of their teeth.
In this neighbourhood, it’s common to see groups of women and men seated along the road, lest a donor vehicle passes by. For the last few months, most families have been living off food donations from churches and other well-wishers.
‘‘When I get flour to last us for two days, I’m able to save my little income for days when I’m unable to find work,’’ Wanga said.
Unable to pay her rent monthly house rent of Sh4,000 in May, Wanga made the hard decision to sell some of her house wares. With most items now gone, she’s nothing to convert into quick money.
She has rent arrears for two months now, and with the third month well underway, she’s unsure how to raise money to secure shelter for her family.
‘‘The landlord has already issued us with the notice to vacate by the end of this month. I’m not sure where to take my children or what to do,’’ Wanga said, unable to hold back her tears.
With no medical insurance and a nine-month-old baby in the family, Wanga lives in dread of a medical emergency.
‘‘My hope is to get money to revive my business so that I can provide for my family,’’ Wanga said, before staring away in despair.