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Scavenger mum dreams of soaring above dumpsite

At Mukuru kwa Njenga, Felicina Wambui goes about her business of scavenging for food, but dreams of soaring above the dirty dumpsite.

Friendly, cheerful and outgoing could start to describe her, but she is more jolly and full of life than you could imagine a chokora (scavenger) — who eats and feeds her child from the dumpsite.

Ms Wambui wants to be an actress, but her desperate acts at the dumpsite are not a scene in a drama.

The 29-year old mother of one became a widow two years ago and was shaken to reality when her child almost died of hunger.

With her Standard Five son’s future in her hands, she has learnt to take her life positively.

Her vision is clear: “My dream is to become a great actress, I know that I can do it if I am given a chance,” she said.

Upmarket estates

She sifts through heaps of garbage to get food, “We wait for lorries bringing garbage from upmarket estates such as Karen and Donholm and pick up the leftovers to eat.”

One thing makes her stand out from the other chokoras — she is determined to make it and sees only movable barriers ahead.

She pays Sh450 per term to keep her son at Star of Hope Primary school in Lunga Lunga slum.

But the dumpsite is not dependable, given that the lorries sometimes fail to arrive for a long time and may bring in garbage that may not be useful to the scavengers.

“I prefer to stay and scavenge at the dumpsite than become a prostitute. It does not matter how dirty the place is or how much smoke we inhale,” she said.

The dumpsite has hundreds of other scavengers and none would have chosen to be there, but they have to feed their children.

“I believe where your dream is, there is your blessing. I do not have an allergy for money, if I can get Sh1 million, I would be among the happiest people,” she said.