Life in the slum

Everyday life in the slum is not an easy issue. As far as living is concerned, it's a life in a line of demand, because money is quite a big problem. Especially in extremely poor families the parents have to struggle really hard for the daily bread and for that matter they must rely on their meagre earnings which is around eighty shillings per day. Therefore many people in the village have to go to the place of work very early in the morning and return late in the night. From there they again engage themselves in household chores, that is cooking, fetching water, etc. From about 7:30 pm whereby places like posh estates are in grave quietness, the slum and this village is bound with noises at every nook and cranny. The noise is from drunkards, fighting and domestic violence. So you can imagine such a situation. It's quite discouraging especially to those who are not involved in such things. Late at night is quite good except the noise from the few drunkards. At this time some people are in deep sleep waiting for the next day to start.

Joblessness is another problem in the village. That is employed for salaries. Most people are short time employed. Those people who are not employed have to rely on the small businesses they have set up which can be both legal and illegal. For legal ways people have quite many businesses, ranging from milk selling, shops ,groceries ,selling clean water among others.

On the other hand people cultivate land which they have to rent. On these shambas people plant maize and beans. When the maize is ripe, it is harvested and taken in to be ground into flour which makes ugali (something like polenta). The flour they get is about 4 debes (containers) and can last them for a month or so. Also people have set parts on their shambas where they grow sukuma wiki . This is one of the most common vegetables in Kenya, something like a cross between cabbage and spinach. The name means "push the week" or "take me through the week" because actually many Kenyans have to eat it every day. Also they grow arrow roots, but only where there is enough water. Cultivation is also done inside the village by a few but by most it's done along the river banks. There they plant sukuma wiki, arrow root and bananas. Actually the soil there is very productive.

Keeping animals like goats, chicken, cows (very few) and pigs is done by few, the reason being, people don't have enough space in their homes where to keep them and also don't have shambas where to feed them from. People who have them have to get leaves from Karura forest. Chicken and pigs are fed with food morsels and leftovers.

As I had said earlier, there are illegal ways of earning a living. Some of these practises are brewing of illicit liquors, e.g. chang'aa, selling bhang (marijuana), stealing trees from Karura forest and selling them as building posts, e.g. cedar which is on high demand. Also there is charcoal burning.

To conclude all this, is that, to earn a living in such a place one has to sacrifice himself to do some of the works I have mentioned. But if asked my opinion, I would advise those who earn their living in an illegal way to stop and think otherwise.

Illness and medical treatment

To set off with, there are quite a variety of diseases ranging from mild to fatal diseases. What do I mean: The diseases which are simple, not to harmful, like colds, and those which can kill, e.g. malaria. Some of these diseases are malaria, typhoid, pneumonia, tuberculosis, cancer and sexually transmitted diseases. From these diseases which are curable among villagers are malaria, tuberculosis and pneumonia, but their victims are skinny and emaciated. The treatment and medical attention to these diseases are actually abortive because of some reasons.

  1. Due to lack of finance - when one is taken to the hospital, they are perhaps told to purchase a certain medicine and its price is high, they end up not doing it due to lack of money. This is because most people don't earn a lot of money. Their situation is pitiful, and from this they die.
  2. Neglect of taking medicine - Many cases in the village have been noted, whereby some of these people who are sick dispose medicines in the river, latrines and places unrevealed.
  3. Neglect by hospital administration - Some of these experienced doctors do not pay close attention to the sick people because they think dealing with such situations is only just wasting time. They therefore turn a deaf ear to them and leave them dying. I think a right stand should be taken to those doctors who do such an act of barbary. If a person is taken to ward of a certain disease, chances of surviving are very slim unless you come across a doctor who is merciful.
A short time back I lost an uncle and an aunt due to lung cancer. Their deaths came after a long illness. The main reason why they passed away is due to lack of money and poor service by the hospital administration. I remember when these people are taken to hospital, they are divided into two, poor and rich. Such that the rich are accorded higher privileges of treatment than the poor.

To wrap all of this sicknesses and illnesses in the village is quite a problem and burdensome issue but it could be all well if people were financially stable.

Peter Wakori

[map] [home]