Life in Korogocho
Mary is 33 years old and has lived in the Korogocho slum since she was two. She and her husband have two sons and two daughters. She is one of the most active and loyal group members of MWAMKO. The family is dependant on the earnings of her husband who is a casual construction worker on various building sites in Nairobi.
They live in a 3m x 3m room made of corrugated iron sheets - in hot weather the house becomes extremely hot and in cold weather the house is extremely cold. For this single room they pay a monthly rent of Ksh 2,500/- (£17). Given her husband’s meagre earnings and their daily expenses, sometimes they hardly save enough for the rent and many times have fallen into arrears.
She remains very optimistic that one day they will have access to a decent house and be able to raise her family in a clean and safe environment, where she hopes also to enhance their livelihood with work locally.
Moses was born in Korogocho in 1986, one of six children. From age thirteen he was taught plumbing by his father, a skilled plumber and now a senior MWAMKO member. More than twenty years later Moses, too, is a skilled plumber, mainly doing small repairs, unblocking sewer lines, or installing piping and fittings. On a good day he may contract with a construction company and make up to Ksh 2,000/- (£15) per day. Sometimes he gets his own contracts like fitting a toilet, for which he can earn Ksh 6,000/- (£40) over two days.
Moses, his brother (also a plumber) and their father are in charge of water and sewerage tasks for MWAMKO. He did the plumbing for the water tower and water pump installation on the site, exemplifying the self-build concept where would-be beneficiaries of the project contribute their skills and other resources to build the houses.
Joseph was born and raised in the Korogocho slum over 40 years ago. He has been a very active member of MWAMKO and is currently its Secretary. He and his wife have five school-going children and a new baby. They live in a 3m x 3m mud-walled structure with a corrugated iron roof. It is exceptionally close to the dumpsite where rents are normally lower but he still has to pay Ksh 2000/- (£13) a month for it.
In order to sustain himself and his family Joseph runs a personal mobile greengrocery business outside the slum. He works hard and looks forward to living with his family in a decent house sharing a dignified future with his family members.
Martha was born in Kiambu County, where she attended Primary School but was unable, through poverty, to proceed to Secondary School. She married but her husband later died, leaving her with four children. She lives in a small mud-walled and iron-sheet roofed simple structure owned by her late husband’s family, who expect – and need - her to pay part of the Ksh 3,000/- (£22.50) monthly rent. She works in a nearby hospital where she makes Ksh 9,000/- (£67.50) a month.
Martha is a hardworking widow who has defied all odds to take care of her children and herself. She, like other MWAMKO members, is looking forward to escaping the difficult life that has trapped the hundreds of thousands of residents in the slum.
Magid - a tribute to his memory
We were greatly saddened to hear that Martha's son Magid died in a motor bike accident in February aged 21.
He had become a painter as a result of training arranged by CHG, provided by a large paint company. As a result, he had been earning a living doing painting jobs in the Korogocho slum and other local neighbourhoods.
He was to be a painter on the Kamulu site once houses were ready. Meanwhile he became a very enthusiastic member of the construction team, learning on-site how to mix concrete and becoming highly proficient. A very energetic young man, he represented his family in all MWAMKO activities. He was passionate about the project and contributed a great deal to its success. He was very popular among his peers. He is a huge loss to Martha, to his family and to so many others. Our hearts go out to them.
This photo of Magid was taken at the site in October 2019 (See 'The MWAMKO members are hard at work').