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How ‘mama uji’ beat odds to raise children, buy plot

Jane Wanjiru Muchune 50, prepares porridge at Kasarani on the outskirts of Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County on March 10, 2022. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

For more than 30 years, Jane Wanjiru Muchune has remained a household name for supplying delicious porridge to customers in Eldoret town.

The 63-year-old woman wakes up early to prepare the delicacy at her home in Kasarani area of Langas estate in Eldoret town, before distributing it to her customers.

One variety of her porridge, which she says is a favourite among office workers, has a mixture of ground omena (sardines), milk and assorted fruits going for Sh50 per cup.

Wanjiru, a mother of five, says she ventured into the business after the death of her husband 30 years ago.

“It was difficult to cope with the situation after the death of my husband, who was the breadwinner and father of my children. I knew it would be difficult raising them alone, but through wisdom and courage I have made it,” she says.

She adds that her constant fear following the demise of her husband was how she would provide for and educate her children.

“Life is how you take it. I woke up one day and asked myself, ‘will I suffer just because my husband has died?’ I decided to start selling porridge because I did not have money to do any other business,” she says.

Jane Wanjiru Muchune 50, carries containers full of porridge at Kasarani area on the outskirts of Eldoret town on Marcxh 10, 2022. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

She started selling porridge in 1990 to her neighbours in the estate, with a cup going for Sh5, and through her business, she has managed to send her children to school and also purchased a plot of land where she lives to date.

“My late husband was a caring father, he loved his children. He would do everything possible for his family. When he passed on, I worked hard and in five years I had bought the plot of land,’ she says.

“Now I can say that porridge has made me who I am today,” she adds.

Her first-born-son, George Maina Muchune, who was was only four years old when his father passed on, has completed his degree course at Moi University.

Unfortunately, her three daughters got married after completing secondary school because she was unable to raise fees to further their education.

She recalls how in 1993, a landlord kicked her out of the one-bedroom house her family was living in, claiming she could not afford to pay rent. But despite all odds, she managed to provide for her family.

“Let me advise women that everything is possible in life. Whether you have lost your husband or parents, just keep on praying and also ensure you work hard. What matters is how you handle yourself without depending on men,” she says.

Wanjiru joined Standard One in 1974 at Sabor Primary School in Kaptagat Forest, but could not proceed to secondary school after sitting her Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) examinations in Class Seven.

She had been admitted to Mokua Secondary School on the border of Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet Counties after sitting her CPE.

“I was a bright girl but I couldn’t make it to secondary school due to lack of school fees. I have come to know that whatever a man does, a woman can do better. I was left without anything but I’m proud that I have made my children feel just like other children,” says Wanjiru.

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