For single mothers in Makueni County, the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic was a double tragedy. Even before Kenya announced its first case of coronavirus infection in March, these women were already struggling to feed their families from their little incomes.
But things got from bad to worse when the government ordered closure of bars, restaurants and entertainment spots, which were mainly their places of work.
Take Catherine Mutie, a single mother of six, for instance. Until the outbreak of the pandemic, she worked as a bar attendant at Kalawa market in Mbooni sub-county.
She lost her job when the bar owner closed down the business in compliance with the government’s directive aimed at containing the spread of the virus.
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With the job gone, she has no means of providing for her children.
“I rarely have food for my children,” Catherine said.
Her situation has been worsened by the fact that all her school-going children are at home following the closure of all schools. She has to provide meals for the children who would ordinarily be in school.
Her eldest daughter, who is a Kenya Certificate of Primary Education candidate, has cannot study because she has no reading materials.
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Things are not any better for Jane Mutheu, a single mother of three who also worked as a bar attendant until coronavirus struck.
Without any support from the children’s fathers, life has become hard; other than lacking food, paying rent and other bills has also become a big challenge.
“I do menial jobs like washing clothes for pay which is not on daily basis,” Mutheu said.
Even for those who run their own businesses like Filisters Mumbua, a salon owner, these are trying times.
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She said there are hardly any clients walking into her shop these days, leaving her totally broke.
“Before the outbreak of Covid-19, I would make at least Sh2,000 in a day but nowadays I can go up to a week without making a coin,” she said.
Makueni County Commissioner Maalim Mohammed said they would soon start distributing food to vulnerable groups in all the nine sub-counties.
“Every region will get 500 bags of rice, 20 cartons of cooking oil, and 10 bales of fortified food,” Maalim said.