Meet Lydia Shiraya, age 37, whose home and business is in the Deep Sea Slum in Nairobi Kenya. This young mother of four carries a smile and shows confidence but has not always had it easy. Lydia runs a hotel as her income project. The hotel is in an area set on a slope, within a slum surrounded by palatial homes and fancy apartments. Raw sewage runs in between the narrow corridors of the iron sheet shacks many call home in Deep Sea.
Like any other informal settlement in Kenya, Deep Sea slum has had its fair share of problems. The most prevalent have been fire outbreaks that seem to occur every few months, burning down everything. In 2011 Lydia was a victim of these fires. At the time, she did not have any savings and she had trouble housing her family.
After learning about Yawezekana SACCO in 2014, Lydia began saving as much as she could out of the small rents she collected at her makeshift hotel. When she saved enough to meet the requirements, she took a loan.
Lydia used the loan to rebuild her one-story home that had burnt down and she used some of the money to pay for her two daughters’ school.
“Thanks to Mama Ingrid Munro, I now live in my own house and I am able to support my family and my sisters,” she says with a wide smile.
The biggest challenge which Lydia faces is a lack of business and hotel visitors during the time of seasonal government elections.
“Business is usually low when this happens. It makes it difficult to service our loans,” she explains.
Lydia laughs it off and stays positive, saying, “We are the single mothers who move the wheels of our families.”