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Ramadan in Kenya: Meet Zuleka

In Kenya, around 1 in 3 people live on less then £1.40 a day. Can you imagine?

That’s less than the price of a cup of coffee, a bus ride or a magazine.

For families living in abject poverty, every day is a struggle. Parents worry how they’ll feed their children, whilst communities are left to contend with the added difficulties of climate-induced drought on agricultural communities across East Africa.

For 33-year-old Zuleka, the challenges are all too real.

A mother-of-three, Zuleka lives in one home with her children, aunt, uncle and nephew in Kibera – a slum in the capital of Nairobi and in fact: the largest slum in Africa.

Life in the Kibera slums: Daily struggles

The family all live in a one-room temporary house that is portioned to create separate cooking and sleeping areas.

Financially, they struggle immensely. Zuleka says:

 My children and I have been living with my uncle and his family. My uncle works as a driver and we are surviving mostly off his income. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I was a casual labourer, washing clothes in the neighbourhood.

With the added impact of Covid-19 on workers who rely on a daily cash income, Zuleka is finding it even more difficult to provide for her family:

As a mother, I try my best to provide for my children. Their father does not provide any support. Sometimes he only sends $1. I feel ashamed to place the burden of my children on my uncle. He does not earn much and he has his own family that needs his care.

Covid-19 has made life harder. There is no work. No-one is calling me to wash their clothes anymore. In the slums, you need money to go to hospital, to have water and food. Life is so expensive. We can only rely on Allah for our sustenance.

We try to ensure the family has at least three meals a day. On tough days, we share the little that is available. The children are very understanding. They never complain.

Most of the people living in Kibera slums are casual labourers. If we do not work one day, then our families will sleep hungry.

Alhamdulillah, that’s where Islamic Relief has been able to help – including during the holy month of Ramadan.

Islamic Relief: Helping families in need

Last Ramadan we distributed a staggering 3,295 food packs / vouchers to help 18,970 people in need, including Zuleka and her family.

This was especially important given the added pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic:

This year, the Covid-19 pandemic has made it harder to make a living but the food pack came to our rescue. Families were able to have iftar after a long day of fasting.

Given the obstacles during the pandemic this year, we mainly provided food vouchers rather than food packs. This included the areas of Mandera, Wajir and Dabaab in the east and north-east of the country where restrictions on movement and social gatherings changed our normal ways of working.

In Nairobi however, in the south-west of the country, we were able to distribute food packs. We provided 600 food packs to children in local orphanages and families living in the Kibera slums, including Zuleka and her children.

Each Ramadan food pack included 6kgs rice, 4kgs wheat flour, 4 kgs maize flour, 2kgs sugar, 2kgs dates, 1 litre vegetable oil and 2kgs beans:

 Alhamdulillah! The food pack gave was a great relief. Thank you for blessing my family during Ramadan. May Allah remember all those who provided the food pack and may He bless you abundantly, insha’Allah!

It’s thanks to your generous donations that we were able to support Zuleka, her family and thousands more people in need across Kenya throughout the month of Ramadan.

Thank you for keeping her and her family safe from hunger. Jazakum Allah khair.


Find out more about our life-saving work in Kenya. To support families in need like Zuleka and many more, donate today and help save lives.

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