1. Home
  2. Africa
  3. East Africa
  4. Kenya

Warimu Gachenga, elderly slum resident: “Even buying soap is a problem”

Wairimu Gachenga, resident of Korogocho slum in Nairobi, Kenya
Wairimu Gachenga, resident of Korogocho slum in Nairobi, Kenya (Karel Pinsloo/IRIN)

Wairimu Gachenga, 70, lives in Nairobi’s Korogocho slum and looks after the two orphan children of her late daughter. Once a week, a group of grandmothers from the area get together to practice self-defence techniques after one of them was raped in 2007.

“I started the self-defence classes because men used to rape us, so we saw the need of coming together as grandmas. And at first we did not know how to defend ourselves.

“I’ve never been raped. But one day my son was attacked. And they really hurt him. They cut him with a machete on the head. I only screamed, because I didn’t know what to do. I screamed but no one came to my help.

“When my daughter started falling sick, the husband chased her away and told her: `Just go back to your mother, you are of no use to me.’ He took in another wife.

Slideshow: Nairobi slum-dweller grandmas fight rape

Wairimu Gachenga, resident of Korogocho slum in Nairobi, Kenya, practices self defence techniques with other elderly women in the community

Wairimu Gachenga, resident of Korogocho slum in Nairobi, Kenya, practices self defence techniques with other elderly women in the community
Karel Prinsloo/IRIN
Wairimu Gachenga, resident of Korogocho slum in Nairobi, Kenya, practices self defence techniques with other elderly women in the community
http://www.irinnews.org/photo/
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Wairimu Gachenga, resident of Korogocho slum in Nairobi, Kenya, practices self defence techniques with other elderly women in the community
View slideshow

“Every time I went to look at her bedding, there was blood - I couldn’t explain where it was coming from. We took her to Nazareth Hospital [on the outskirts of Nairobi] for two times, and then we took her to Kiambu [near Naiorbi] later, after suffering for a long time, and she passed away.

“The husband is not alive any more. In fact, he died before my daughter.”

“In good times, when I go sell stuff [Gachenga visits the nearby Dandora dump site to look for recycling material to sell] I get 150 Kenya shillings [US$1.72]. A bad day I get 30 shillings, which is too little to buy anything. Even to buy soap, or to buy kerosene in the house becomes a problem for me.

“I have a daughter who is also on the dump site, but she’s strong. She can sell so much stuff from the site, she really helps me. She gives me a few shillings. And again, I go to the Catholic Church. There’s a programme that is taken care of by the nuns, who give us something to eat, like what I have now.

“I don’t get any money from the government.

“I’m really happy when I meet with my friends. We do training for self-defence. The other thing is we sit down and talk like old women. We have so much to share, so instead of staying in my house and feeling sorry for myself, I go meet with them. It’s like a support group for me.”

aps/cb


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

Help us be the transformation we’d like to see in the news industry

The current journalistic model is broken: Audiences are demanding that the hierarchical, elite-led system of news-gathering and presentation be dismantled in favour of a more inclusive and holistic model based on more equitable access to information and more nuanced and diverse narratives.

The business model is also broken, with many media going bankrupt during the pandemic – despite their information being more valuable than ever – because of a dependence on advertisers. 

Finally, exploitative and extractive practices have long been commonplace in media and other businesses.

We think there is a better way. We want to build something different.

Our new five-year strategy outlines how we will do so. It is an ambitious vision to become a transformative newsroom – and one that we need your support to achieve.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian by making a regular contribution to our work - and help us deliver on our new strategy.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.

Join