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Blind beggar reaches for her dreams, a shilling at a time

Saving money is one of the most ideal ways of raising capital for investments in the journey towards attaining financial freedom.

It is also easier said than done for most people … bar 48-year-old beggar Janet Mwaniki Githaka. Blind and destitute, the resident of Kiandutu slum has eked out a hard living through begging on the streets of Thika over the years and watching every single coin she earned.

Now, her thrift is beginning to bear fruit. She recently got a Sh100,000 loan through a local savings and credit co-operative (sacco) with which she used to buy a motorbike that she hopes will kick start her family’s journey towards financial freedom.

Ms Githaka is a mother of five and a high-school dropout. She has been a street beggar for most of her life, which is how she affords to cater for her family’s needs.

MET HER HUSBAND

After dropping out of Form Two due to lack of fees in 1991, Ms Githaka met her husband Joseph Mwaniki the following year and soon settled down.

She lost her eyesight after developing an illness in Class Three, she says, while her husband lost his in his teenage years. The couple fell to begging to feed their children and pay rent at the slum.

Her favourite spot over the years has been outside Family Bank where two of her elder sons drop her off at 3pm everyday alongside her blind husband and pick them up in the evening at around 5pm when the younger children are about to get home from school.

She told Nation that she gets home before her husband to help the younger children with homework and prepare dinner.

“This has been our routine for years, two of our elder sons who are employed as bodaboda riders drop us and pick us every day because commuting in the traffic is a problem for both of us due to our blindness,” explained Ms Githaka.

In February last year, Ms Githaka heard of Angaza Sacco, an organisation that offers low-interest loans to people living with disabilities, and started saving a portion of her daily collections that range between Sh200 and Sh500 with them.

SH2K ON A GOOD DAY

During the weekends when her younger children are not in school, Ms Githaka is normally accompanied by her children to Nairobi to beg along the city streets where on a good day she goes home with Sh2,000.

Angaza Sacco director Mr Ngunjiri Nderitu said the organisation offers persons living with disabilities loans at a special interest rate of 0.5 per cent instead of the usual one per cent.

As the sacco handed the motorbike to her second-born son, 20-year-old Benson Mwaniki, Mr Ngunjiri said: “We hope that her son will make sufficient income to offset the loan. We have bigger plans for her. We want to see her acquire land and build a house after she is done settling her current loan.”