Vivian Awino looks frail and coughs repeatedly as she pulls a piece of rug that doubles up as her blanket and wipes her face.
She wipes her face repeatedly for a few minutes then shifts her attention to her baby who has just woken up from her sleep as rays from the sun piercing through their house became strong.
Since 2016, the makeshift shelter made of torn mats and iron sheets deep inside Obunga slums in Kisumu has been her home with her four siblings. While inside the house, the rays of the sun pierce through and one can only imagine how the situation is when it rains.
The ground is what acts as their seats while pieces of torn clothes are what make up her bed. Their in-depth poverty level is an open secret and it is a miracle how they manage each day.
At 22 years old, Vivian has seen it all. She has been a mother to her four siblings and was forced to take up parental duties after the demise of her parents. Two of her other siblings were taken by other relatives. She had to drop out of school in Form 2 after the death of her parents.
For her, each day alive is just a blessing, and managing to put even a single meal on the table for her younger siblings is a dream come true and a blessing she prays over for several hours.
While her age mates are probably pursuing education in colleges and universities, Vivian is a young parent who has come face to face with the grip of poverty. She spent the better part of her teenage years as a young parent taking care of their siblings and as a young adult, the situation has worsened for her.
Can't afford sanitary pads
So bad has been the situation for her that she and her younger siblings use old clothes as sanitary pads. The clothes also double up as the bedding. Her younger sister who is now 17 also has a baby and has dropped out of school due to lack of money.
“It is not easy for me. I cannot even afford their food, let alone uniforms,” she explains to K24 Digital amid tears.
When we bumped into her at her makeshift house, she appeared in deep thought and was wondering where their next meal would come from. The previous night they had slept on an empty stomach.
“Most of the time we just take water in the evening and sleep. I cannot afford food. At times we borrow from a neighbour who owns a shop and pay later when we get money,” she said.
The firstborn in a family of 6 revealed to us that ever since they lost their parents, their relatives disowned them and have never wanted anything to do with them.
"My brother occasionally missed exams because I don't have money to pay for him and that breaks my heart and makes him drop on his performance despite being a bright pupil, “she said.
She noted that her mother died when she was in Class 8 and was about to sit for her national exams which she sat for but unfortunately due to lack of school fees, had to drop out of school in Form 2.
She says she resorted to working in a hotel where she is being paid Ksh200 per day, a work that only comes occasionally.
The young mother dreams of going back to school but has no means. She says her greatest worry is the future of her siblings.
Appeal to well-wishers
She appeals for help from well-wishers to take over her brother's school fees since she says that she has no idea on how he will educate him.
"From my meager payment, I don't know how I'll pay his school fees once he sits for his KCPE next year. The money that I earn cannot even be enough to buy uniforms, “she says.
In their house, they sleep on torn mattresses and share one small blanket and clothes to cover themselves.
Her sister’s daughter, she says, has a medical condition, as at 1, she can neither sit nor eat. They suspect she’s suffering from polio.
"I’m praying that someone helps me enroll for a beauty therapy course; I would really work hard then later look for a job in order to take care of my siblings,” she painfully pleaded.