My name is Sharon Otieno from Kisumu Kenya living in the slums of Manyatta.
I am 34 years old. I am a mother of four. I am currently jobless but I do laundry for people for livelihood. I am married to Emanuel Onyango who is now 48 years of age currently jobless.
I got married at the age of 20; my parents were poor so I had to get married early to reduce the burden of staying at my parents’ house. So I had to go to Nairobi since my husband was working there. I got my first child at the age of 20 and my second born at the age of 21. My husband was providing for me and at the same times my family back at home. Life was good and I was living my dream.
After 12 years of marriage, my husband decided to take an early retirement because he wanted to vie for a political sit. That’s when everything started to change.
All over sudden my husband started coming home late, he would be seen with lots of young women and when I asked him he would get mad and tell me that it was a strategic move for his political sit. The money he used to give us for food he could not afford claiming that he has used all his cash for campaign and that we should wait for the result of the election that’s when he will be able to give us money for food. This made me start borrowing money from my family.
When the result came out my husbands had failed and that’s when life started becoming tough. My husband became so much depressed and all he could do was drink and argue. The landlord kicked us out of our apartment coz of our rental areas. That’s when we moved to Kisumu since my husband was afraid of shame.
Life in the slums was tough and we had to stay in a small room and during that time I had 4 kids and my husband. This forced my husband to start taking illicit brews just to make him drunk. When drunk he would come and chase us out of the house claiming that we were the people responsible for his loss.
To make the matters worse he would even come with strange ladies and chase us away. Since he was a well-known person I could not report him to the village administration or should I say that they did nothing about it. He would beat me up in front of my kids because he came home and found nothing to eat.
I also became depressed but what kept me moving was my kid, that’s when I started doing laundry to at least feed my family and pay my rent. To make the matters worst he could sometime come and steal my savings for alcohol. It reached a point where I had to beg my neighbors for food and at times even shelter.
When my kids come back for holidays they usually help me do the laundries for extra cash for their school fees. As to my family they decided to ghost me since they also thought I was the one behind my husband’s misfortune
What I can tell my fellow women is that we can do it.
When we come together we can stop this kind of mistreatment from our spouses and anyone involved.
It’s time we say enough is enough and we should also be empowered women.
For we are the core of survival of man.
Thanks to everyone involved in this project. a problem said is a problem half solved.
Written by George Odiero