“I am from Butere, western Kenya in Kakamega Country. I came to Nairobi to work in 2012 to look for a job to see how I can help myself and my family.
I am married. I was 16 years old when I got married. My husband is at home in Kakamega. My husband does casual work and does farm work. I have two children. One is around six years old and the other is still young, around four years old. They stay at home in Kakamega. My husband looks after them as well as my mother-in-law.
It was my decision to come to work in Nairobi because I needed to help my husband so that we can raise our family. I didn’t have a job when I came to Nairobi and so I came looking for a job. It took around two months to find a job; I stayed with some in-laws. I had a friend of my in-laws and she heard of this job, so it was through word of mouth. The job comes with a place to sleep. I go back to Kakamega to see my family in Nairobi on Saturday until Sunday and after one or two months, I go for three to four days to Kakamega and then I come back.
I went to school until I was around 15, but I didn’t continue. My parents did not have money so I couldn’t finish. I have three sisters and two brothers. Two of them have finished school and two of them haven’t. One sister and one brother finished school, but I didn’t. My favorite subject at school was science. I liked science because I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up but couldn’t because I didn’t have the money.
Paid on Time and Encouraged to Study
My employers are good to me. I get given food and meals three times a day, and time off. On Sundays, I am off and will go and see my family in Nairobi or friends. I will then travel home to see my children every six weeks by bus.
I start work at 5:30 a.m. and will first of all get the children up and dressed and give them breakfast. I will then send them off to school and clean the house. I will do the washing up and ironing and make sure everything is ready when they get home from school. Then I will help them have tea and cake.
My salary is around 10,000 Kenyan shillings (about $97) per month, but I also get my accommodation and food paid for. I also get a uniform. I send most of this money back home to Kakamega to pay for the school fees for my children but I also try and save some.
My employer is very good to me and is encouraging me to do a course in computers so I am hoping to start this soon. I would like to be better qualified so that I can go and get a better job and earn more money.
‘I Miss My Children’
I know that some girls are not as lucky as me and are not treated well. I have heard of girls who are not paid by their employers and are forced to work very bad hours for free. Some girls are beaten, too, but are too scared to go to the police.
They also have no money or means to escape or go back home. I have also heard how some girls are forced to sleep with their employers, but if this happens girls are often too ashamed to talk about it.
The hardest part of my job is being away from my children. I miss them.”
Lucy Nyangasi is a member of Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotel, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (KUDHEIHA).