Friday, October 26, 2018

Voices of the Caretakers: Stella




Easily spottable from any matatu driving in on the gravel entrance to Kibera, the Umande Trust building and attached bio-centre stands three stories tall overlooking a busy road filled with people, umbrellas, shops, and cars. While the top two floors of the building is office space, the bottom floor is a complete bio-centre with 4 toilets on each side and 2 showers in total. This bio-centre also comes with a fridge filled with soda for passersby who may want a treat. The caretaker of this bio-centre is Stella, a 29 year old woman with three children at home. This is Stella’s second month working at the bio-centre here and in her first month here says that she considers her job fair.
 Stella spends most of her day sitting on a white plastic chair outside of the steps of the bio-centre, collecting the five shilling fair for using the toilet and the fifty shilling fair to get a soda. She also cleans the bio-centre two to three times per day. While she is not sure of the exact number of people who come to her bio-centre everyday, she estimates that there are about 200-250 customers on an average weekday. Stella says that the biggest challenge of her job is the lack of water in the bio-centres. She says that there have been quite a few times where the bio-centre has been inoperable due to water scarcity and in return her customers become upset. As the caretaker, this is little she can do about the lack of water and she finds these times frustrating.

 Stella took this job because of the lack of job opportunities in Kibera. She uses the money she makes from being a bio-centre caretaker on food, clothes and school fees for her and her family. Overall, Stella says that she would describe her job as “good”. She wishes there were more opportunities for her, but she is content with being employed at this bio-centre