My friend’s story

15 Nov

Do you know the article by Binyanga “How to write about Africa”?

2018 edit: Seen the Danger of a single story TED talk?

If not, please look them up online.

These messages from African thought leaders and writers is what makes me so torn about writing this blog. I want to share my experience with people back home who can’t put human faces to “Africa”. Yet any story could be interpreted as signs of suffering and negativity, no matter how much I want the strength, resilience and community to come out.

And this is a true story of one of the young women I worked with in 2008.

“My name is not so important, but I am living in Mukuru Slum in Nairobi. I am one of the thousands of girls in my area who never finished secondary school.

I want to open a bakery in town, but there is no start capital for me to do so. I know I am great in cooking and catering, but maybe the fact that I was born and live where I live keeps me from doing that. I had a job in a restaurant, we come early at around 6 to cook and serve the food and leave around 5 after cleaning. This is when I start selling small snacks on the street, because the 4,500 KSh (40 Euros) I earn per month won´t allow me to save for my dream to come true. Sundays are my free days, this is when I focus on church, doing my laundry and meeting friends.

One of these days I asked my boss to increase my salary because I felt that I am doing a great job. She had put me on a two-month break before when the restaurant was not going well. Instead of giving me the chance she said if I am complaining she can as well fire me. The way she treated me made me very unhappy and I felt frustrated.

I went home to discuss with my brother and mum whether I should stay or leave the place. My brother got angry and said he does not see my contribution to the family income and I should leave. Sometimes he behaves like that, because he is the man in the house since my dad left. I understand him… these days with the drought the food prices went up and the water shortage makes all of us aggressive and sick.

There is a man who I like. He offered me to go to his rural area with him. He promised me that in Western Kenya there is a lot of rain and enough food for everybody. So I decided to go with him and I told me family goodbye. The weather in Western was quite humid so that I fell sick, I think it was malaria. In fact the man did not have a job where we were so I started selling Chapatis on the street to sustain ourselves. Just two months down the line I find out that I am pregnant. I can barely move my legs at night, it is so painful. I admit to hospital and they confirm my situation. The man is not interested in my situation. I think he changed a lot since we left Nairobi!

Through a neighbours phone I tell my family that I want to come back to Nairobi. Fortunately they m-pesa me some money and I just leave the man behind. Arriving in Mukuru I realize that I have to go to the doctor. Under tears tell my mum that I am pregnant. She does not speak with me but takes me to the doctor and pays for my treatment. I sleep at a friends room, she is married and her husband says I can only stay until I find another place.

The worst right now is the flu I have and my paining legs. I don´t know how to pay my food and the doctors bills. I really need to know where I stay until I deliver. The doctor says that I am HIV negative, so that is a good thing.”

One Response to “My friend’s story”


  1. Baby « Manuela in Africa - April 16, 2010

    […] Baby By manuinkenya This is a follow up of a previous post. […]

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