Samuel’s Story

Samuel Onang’o, a disabled father of three, lives with his family in Kibera, Kenya.

It has now been over three months, and Samuel has had to learn to survive alone in his one-room, tin-walled house. As the coronavirus continues to spread across the country, lockdowns and closures of schools and businesses have caused immeasurable disruptions. People with disabilities were already living in a world of isolation, but the effects of the pandemic have made their isolation even worse.

Samuel, who is a cobbler, has been especially impacted by the forced isolation and closing of businesses. The massive job losses for the people living in Kibera have caused a shift in the economy, and now families prefer to spend whatever little money they have on food and other essential goods.

“Before the pandemic, I was earning up to $10 a day. This was enough for my family’s upkeep and my children’s school fees. Now I barely make $2 on a good day. Yesterday I made only 10 cents,” said Samuel.

To help curb the spread of COVID-19, the government mandated that all small business owners install hand-washing stations on their premises. This presented another challenge for Samuel.

“Because of the long-lasting water shortage we’ve had here in Kibera, we have to buy water. Sometimes I don’t even have enough for my personal use, but if I don’t have water for my hand-washing station at work, I can be arrested,” Samuel explains.

Five gallons of water cost 20 cents at the water pump, but because of his wheelchair, Samuel cannot get to the water pump or carry the water back. A chore that would usually be completed by his wife or one of his children with no issue has now become a huge roadblock for Samuel.

“This means that for every 5 gallons of water, I have to pay an extra 20-cent delivery fee. And on top of that, I still have to buy soap for my hand-washing station.”

Fortunately, ADRA started working in Samuel’s community to support families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.