Miss Halima Ayub Ninga is a single mother of two children. Her first born child is 10 years old and is a class 4 pupil at Holy Trinity Education Centre while the second born is 7 years old and a class 1 pupil in Kibera Primary School. She is the head of her household, and a small scale trader who operates a small grocery kiosk, and on a part -time basis sells ice cream. She is a Kenyan of Nubian community origin residing in Kibera. As documented the Nubian community faces rampant discrimination, since they are deemed as foreigners or outsiders. As a minority community in Kibera, informal settlement occupied by the three largest communities in Kenya namely; Kikuyu, Luo and Luhyas, Nubians face discrimination in accessing jobs, development, education bursaries among others. This has affected the well-being of Halima, her family and the general Nubian community.
Miss Halima faced a myriad of challenges before the commencement of the Wezesha Jamii project in Kibera. Her life took a wrong turn when she had to drop out of school in form three due to unwanted pregnancy. This forced her to get married to the father of her child.
Marriage life was unbearable, since the father of her child had no steady income who worked as a casual labourer in one of the construction firms and as the sole bread winner of the young family. The casual jobs were not guaranteed and on some occasion he would miss-out on casual job opportunities, meaning the family would go hungry on those particular days.
In her second year of marriage, when she was preparing to go back to school and continue with her O level education, her husband suddenly left her without notice and in unclear circumstances to date.
That unfortunate event thrusted her into a life of single motherhood and survival to fend for her 2 children. That was the final blow to her dreams of continuing with her education. To provide for her children, she depended on well-wishers, from the small token she used to receive, she decided to start a small grocery business. She realized that this was the only way she will also be able to provide her children with opportunity to go to school.
The initiative to start the a business offered some financial relief to the family, however, the frequent illness of her children attributed to poor diet and compounded by prevailing poor environmental sanitation in the informal settlement. The situation resulted into diverting her business resources to meet hospital bills since she had no health insurance cover. Her daily incomes was 300Kshs, which 60% of the income was spent on food and 40% went to medication, which meant that she had no savings to expand her business or educate her children.
She also faced discrimination from her community, coming from a Nubian community which views early pregnancy as a taboo. The house she was staying in was poorly lit, thus affecting the education of her children and also access to information, since she could not afford to own a radio or a television set box.
Halima also faced discrimination and violation of her rights as local law enforcement officers would confiscate her merchandize and demand for bribes.
Halima joined Wezesha Jamii project in the year 2016, this has transformed her life and that of her children. The project empowered her through training on business skills, simple book balancing and customer care. This has really helped her improve on how she relates to her customers and conduct her business. She is currently keeping her business records and able to calculate how much profit she is deriving from the business. This has enabled her to provide for her children needs as well as their education, medication and upkeep. The skills have improved her daily income from 300Kshs per day to 650Kshs per day. This has been due to good customer relations skills, bookkeeping and improvement in choosing quality products to sell. Before she used to spend 40% of her earnings on medication, but since she enrolled with NHIF with assistance from the project, she currently uses 3% of her monthly earning on medication. The remaining savings i.e. 37% she uses on her children education.
The project through the implementing partners have benefited her and transformed her life.
Through the empowerment by SITE Enterprise promotion, her business skills have been enhanced while NOPE has trained her on rights. She is able to know her rights, defend them and report cases of violations.
Wezesha Jamii also empowered me through trainings on rights and as a result, I was able to negotiate with Right Valley Railways (RVR) to allocate me a low cost modern house in Makina.
Through Youth Alive Kenya’ s sensitization on the public social security schemes namely National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and National Social Security Fund (NSSF) as well as lobbying the local administration to provide essential facilities and services. As a result of this awareness, she narrates how her family was able to benefit:’ My life was so difficult, filled with sorrow and problems. I had nowhere to turn to. When I joined ‘Tembea na Dada Women Group’, I benefitted from psycho-social support and I began to view things positively as a single mother. While at the group, we were mobilized to join a project called Wezesha Jamii. We learnt that the project was funded by European Union and implemented by NOPE, SITE, Youth Alive! Kenya and Oxfam as the lead partner. The project targets us as small scale traders and women domestic workers to improve their socio-economic well-being in the Nairobi informal settlements.’
‘Through the project I have learnt how to save monies from my business, book keeping and customer relations. The training has really improved my business and the relationship I have with my customers’.
‘I have also learnt about my rights, how to detect if they are being violated and how to defend and where to report abuses ’.
‘Importantly I was not registered into any social security schemes. Through the training and awareness I received from Youth Alive Kenya o, I am now registered and an active contributor into both schemes’.
‘NHIF, has helped me a lot, my child has been in and out of hospital, but now I am able to settle my bills and get proper medication’.
‘I urge my fellow women to join the project’ she concludes as we end the interview
On what life would have been without Wezesha Jamii Project –
She would still be ignorant of her rights as a woman and small scale trader. Similarly she would have not gotten the initiative to venture into business and would have depended entirely on well-wishers or would have engaged in illicit activities to fend for her family.
Her family would still not have safety nets to cushion them from incurring exorbitant medical bills for her household.
Finally, the family would have been exposed to food insecurity thus compounding the well-being of the family economically and socially.