28 May 2013 09:00
Wairimu Gachenga, 70, lives in the notorious Nairobi slum of Korogocho, Kenya. She looks after her grandchildren, 19 year old Wahome Njeriand and 17 year old Wairimu Njeriafter, after their mother died from HIV. In order to make ends meet, she travels to the Dandora dumpsite to collect plastic and other recyclable material which she then sells. On a weekly basis, she receives some cabbage and other plant material from a church in the area that she uses to feed her family.
Gachenga regularly joins a group of grandmothers from the area who get together to practice self-defense techniques, after one of the natives was raped in 2007. Elderly women in Kenya are increasingly suffering from sexual assault, since many believe that they have a lower risk of catching HIV compared to younger women. In response to this problem, the group is also part of a support group for the women, where they swap stories and ensure each other's safety. When one of the women doesn't attend a meeting, the rest of the group suspects that she is in danger. Gachenga, like many other women in her condition, has resorted to communal means to secure her livelihood, where the weekly meetings act as a safe haven for those in need of help.