Emily is a young Luo woman we met in Mathare Valley. She’s 27, has two children named Ian and Olga, and a husband. They live near the edge of the slum in a shack made of iron sheets that measures 9 ft x 12 ft. She’s lived in Mathare most of her life.
We did some math today and this is what we found.
Emily cleans for a Somali family in Eastleigh and earns 1,500/= per month (approx $20). Her husband is a watchman and earns double that for a total monthly income of 4,500/= ($60) per month.
Here are the monthly expenses:
300/= Use of public toilet
1400/= Public transport for husband to get to work each day (price immediately goes higher if it rains).
300/= Public transport for Emily to go to work assuming 10x per month. She walks the rest of the time (one hour each way) to save money.
480/= Daycare for 3-yr-old Olga. Emily also has to send a lunch with Olga 6 days per week.
300/= Ian’s school fees (Ian is 8).
700/= Cooking Fuel (combination of charcoal and firewood).
5,580/= Total which is 1,000/= more than what they earn. This does not include food, the cost of a yearly school uniform for Ian, medicine, entertainment or anything else.
Either the income is off, or the expenses are off, or Emily and family are struggling mighty hard to stay afloat. My hunch is it’s a combination of all three of those.
As we tromped around in Mathare today doing interviews and getting to know people, it became apparent rather quickly that Emily is not the exception. She’s the norm.