#HerCOVID19stories — ‘Not everyone in Mathare is respecting COVID-19 restrictions’

Photography for Social Change
7 min readMay 19, 2020


Her COVID-19 stories is a collaborative series aiming to document the experiences of women, and especially low-income women, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in sharing your stories on ‘Women & COVID-19’! See our creative brief here.

This blog is updated every time we share a new story.

‘Not everyone in Mathare is respecting COVID-19 restrictions’

© Millicent Lodenyi

Photographer Millicent Lodenyi captures COVID-19 visuals from Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya:
‘A group of people gathered in one place without respecting the precautions provided by the ministry of Health and the government Of Kenya, like keeping social distance. and wearing masks, during COVID-19 pandemic times.’

Queuing for water during the pandemic

© Felistar Oyolo

Felistar Oyolo reports from Mathare, Nairobi:

“Residents of Mathare, Nairobi, queuing for water provided by NGO Shofco during the pandemic.

This water is used for all household needs, from cleaning to drinking. To make the water safe to drink most people often boil it beforehand.

However, if they have used it for cooking and drinking before without any side effects, they would go on using the water without filtering or boiling it.’

For many in low income settlements in Nairobi, the choice of staying at home for safety is not an option

© Melissa Aluso

‘A businessman wearing a mask and using hand sanitiser while selling ice cream on the streets of Mathare’

Photograph by Melissa Aluso in Mathare, Nairobi.

For most who earn minimum wage in low income settlements in Nairobi, the choice of staying at home for safety is not an option hence the only option is to adhere to safety measures issued by the government.

Without a job, but not without hope during lockdown

© Fibi Afloe

‘I had dreams of making enough money this year, especially during the end of Ramadan celebrations. I am a make-up artist but due to this global pandemic, I don’t get any work. Everyone is facing some sort of financial hardship but I believe this will blow over soon. And I will be able to make ladies in my community look extra gorgeous whenever they step out to party!’

Hajara Salifu, 21, is photographed at her home in by Fibi Afloe in Nima, Ghana.

The young people using art to fight COVID-19

© Mary Wanjiru, May 2020, Mathare, Kenya

‘Mathare roots, a youth initiative in Mathare slums Kenya, are using street art and graffiti to spread positive messaging on Corona virus, and sensitize people on the importance of wearing masks during this pandemic.’

Mary Wanjiru, Mathare, Kenya

In Ghana, women head porters amongst most affected by lockdown measures

Kayayeis receiving food donations at Tema Station, Accra, Ghana. © Fibi Afloe, 3 April 2020

‘The Kayayei, young women and girls who work as head porters, are amongst those who feel most severely the impact of the measures against COVID-19.

The Kayayei usually migrate from Northern Ghana to the capital, in the hope to find work and support their families back home. They typically live close to the markets, often in overcrowded shelters.

Ghana’s imposed lockdown restrictions made life for the Kayayei rather unbearable. Since the lockdown, they have been relying on food donations.

Kayayeis receiving food donations at Tema Station, Accra, Ghana. © Fibi Afloe, 3 April 2020

Private organizations and NGOs work to support the survival of the Kayayei. Despite all efforts, some of the head porters were not able to receive food packages. There was a shortage of supplies after packages went to a large number of women in need.’

The challenge of studying from home

In many communities, stay at home orders have contributed to widening inequalities when it comes to studying and pursuing an education. While children from more well-off backgrounds have managed to access their lessons online, and to do their homework regularly under their parents’ supervision, children from lower income backgrounds didn’t have this privilege. Many are falling behind with school work.

Hawa Dawuli, 14, is photographed at her home in Nima, Ghana by shutter sister Fibi Afloe.

‘I was very attached to my father before he left with his new wife when my mother passed away. I have been living with my grandparents.

Ever since school got suspended due to COVID-19, I have been struggling to study at home. I keep hearing about online learning but I have never experienced it. My grandparents do not own a smart phone or laptop, so I can’t study online.

I wish things could go back to normal so I can go back to school and learn hard.’

An unusual Eid celebration at home

Eid Mubarak to our community & followers celebrating Eid around the globe!

This year many Muslims are spending Eid at home for the first time in an effort to curb COVID-19.

Muslim women in the Nima community pose in their beautiful dresses as they celebrate Eid at home for the first time

In Ghana, with a nationwide ban on large social gatherings, many prayed inside and dressed up to visit family members who live close by.

Lensational photographer Fibi Afloe captures shots of family gatherings and women celebrating in the Nima community.

Muslim women in the Nima community pose in their beautiful dresses as they celebrate Eid at home for the first time
Muslim women in the Nima community pose in their beautiful dresses as they celebrate Eid at home for the first time

#Mask_Up_Ho : the fashion designers sewing masks for vulnerable groups in Ho, Ghana

‘We celebrate members of the Ghana Corporative Fashion Designers Association — Ho Branch who are sewing 1000 face masks for distribution to our mothers in the market, taxi drivers, food vendors, security officers and many vulnerable groups in Ho’

Thank you

for sharing this inspiring story.

Support and read more about the #Mask_Up_Ho campaign sending masks to vulnerable groups here

The company selling masks to ensure food security for its beading artisans in Kenya

RoHo goods is an ethical accessories company that partners with over 400 artisans in Kenya, 95% of whom are women.

RoHo’s artisans based in Kenya

As COVID-19 struck, RoHo’s sales plummeted, putting their 1,200 artisans at risk of food insecurity. But the owners of RoHo, who are based in the United States, weren’t going to let their artisans down.

They decided to sew masks in the US, and sell them over there, with all profits going back to their artisans in Kenya.

Two weeks after starting, RoHo had sold nearly 500 masks, ensuring food security for their artisans at least through all of May.

The first arrival of food staples in Kenya

Kabibi is one of RoHo’s artisans based on the coast . She’s a mother of three, and her husband is a motorcycle taxi driver. Kabibi has just given birth .

New mother Kabibi (a beading artisan), and her baby picking up food

Both Kabibi and her husband had fewer opportunities for work, as demand for beading artisans and for drivers has gone down.

She is particularly vulnerable as a new mother, so RoHo wanted to ensure she has access to proper healthcare, as well as nutritional food.

Go Roho! Purchase RoHo’s masks here to ensure vulnerable artisans aren’t at risk during these challenging times.

A COVID-19 tip for today from Accra, Ghana

  1. Stay at home, avoid contracting COVID-19.
  2. Stay at home, rest if you are feeling unwell.
  3. Stop the spread, save health workers, save all Ghanaians.

© Misper Apawu
Accra, Ghana
May 2020

Handwashing inventions in rural Kenya

Handwashing is key to fighting off the spread of Covid-19. In some places more than others, observing this “simple” guideline can be a big challenge, due to access to water and soap.

In Amboseli, Kenya, children are washing their hands with water from this canister hanging on a wall.

© Esther Tinayo
Amboseli, Kenya
April 2020

Soap is very hard to find in Amboseli, and it is often considered a luxury good.

In Esiteti village, people have created these homemade taps to put outside their Bomas (homesteads) in order to ensure that everyone washes their hands before entering.

© Esther Tinayo
Amboseli, Kenya
April 2020

Safety First, Let’s All Come Together And Fight This Together.

A young lady washes her hands with soap under running water, as her friend helps her pour it on her hands, in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

© Fibi Afloe
Accra, Ghana
March 2020

Temperature checks

A man checks the temperature of a customer at the entrance of a shop.

In Accra, Ghana, a lockdown was put in place as early as March to curb the spread of COVID-19.

© Doreen Ntumy
Accra, Ghana,
March 28, 2020



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