Ghetto Stories

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COVID19 in Mathare #1

By Calvin Shikuku


"No one is buying from my kiosk anymore," a trader said at Mabatini. She has her business in Magorofani, which translates to ‘tall buildings’ because it has many rickety flats built on a narrow strip of land right at the border between Huruma estate and Mathare Valley.




This is one of the most densely populated areas in Mathare. Emily sells blankets, bed sheets and pairs of shoes and socks. Following government announcement of drastic measures to curb the spread of COVID 19, her business has nose-dived. She was used to serve about 20 customers a day. Now, she is lucky to get a maximum of 5 customers. She complains that the cost of living is always on the rise and rising food prices and decreasing customers make Emily really anxious about what the future will hold for her and her family.

"I depend on my business to pay my bills and feed my children, every day. It is the only source of income I have, we have. I do not know how I will manage this situation" she added, shaking her head with clear stress written on her face.

Emily is among many traders lined up on this street who need to sell their products every day so they can eat and save a little for rent and school fees. Many of them are afraid that their families will die of hunger if the police enforce a government directive for the closure of their businesses  as seen in various parts of Nairobi like Kibera slums.