Lilian Makozwe: Mother of five opens up on a life of sexual abuse on the streets

Lilian Makozwe, a garbage collector, landed in Nairobi’s Kibera slums from Vihiga in search of greener pasture as a 19-year-old after fleeing her poverty and conflict-stricken home.

With nothing more than an empty house, she started looking for work and soon after got a job as a domestic worker, which however did not last long and she was forced to seek another employment elsewhere.

In an interview on Citizen TV’s ‘Shajara’ show on Friday, Makozwe broke down while recollecting the distasteful and painfully challenging events in her life.

“The employer was a terrible human being; she did not give me food or pay me my dues and soon after I joined the street life. My first night in the streets was frightening, I mostly kept to myself because I spent time with drug addicts,” she narrated.

The street life had its own set of challenges, sexual abuse being at the very top, and soon Makozwe found herself pregnant with her first child. She went on to give birth to two more children in the streets, all as a result of rape incidents.

“I did not have any sort of relationships with their fathers, my three children that I got in the streets were products of sexual abuse by total strangers who took advantage of me while I was sleeping,” she said.

According to her, her family used to feed off dust bins or well-wishers. She noted that her children have never been hospitalized, despite the fact that they feed on garbage food.

“Life in the streets has no dignity, you eat anything, men take advantage of you sexually, when it rains you sleep in trenches and you stumble on nasty things in the garbage. I gave birth in the streets, and never went to the hospital, the women there would help me when the time came and I delivered all of my children safely. I do not know what I would have done without their help,” she recalled.

Determined to leave the streets, she started working as a garbage collector, and learnt how to forage for food in waste bins.

She recalls that to survive, she had to scavenge for food and clothes from the bins. Although their stomachs would ache, Makozwe and her children never had to go to the hospital, something she says she is eternally grateful for.

Makozwe later got two more children with men she believed loved and wanted to protect her from all of her troubles.

“These men promised to take care of me but both left immediately I got pregnant. Today I am a mother of five children and I really want them to have a future although I am not able to fully take them to school,” she said.

Today, she relies fully on garbage collection to support her family; on good days, she gets food and clothes which she takes home to her children.

“I live in Marurui, Thome, and I do garbage collection within the area, I have to lock my children in the house every time I leave the house to go scavenging because I am scared of the harsh world swallowing them young,” she said.

Makozwe appealed for help to start a business that will help her cater for her family and educate her children.


Citizen Digital Sexual abuse Shajara Homelessness

Want to send us a story? SMS to 25170 or WhatsApp 0743570000 or Submit on Citizen Digital or email

Leave a Comment


No comments yet.

latest stories