Kenya: Caregivers Now Opt to Take Young Ones to Work Alongside Them

Sights of children laughing, playing and running about in between stalls have become a common occurrence at Kenyatta Market in Nairobi.

This is because more caregivers are opting to bring their children to work alongside them.

With schools closed until January next year and a crippled economy, parents now face a tough decision of choosing between playing their role as guardians to their children or being providers.

However, for traders at Kenyatta Market, the decision is simple -- they must play both roles.

A spot check by the Nation at the market last week revealed that several traders had their children with them at their stalls while they served customers.


Ms Jane Kasyoka, a trader, said she prefers her 11-year-old daughter being close to her so that she can watch over her and protect her from negative influences and other vices.

Ms Kasyoka, who owns a salon at the market, has two children. Her oldest, Ruth Mwangi, is a Class Five pupil in Kibra.

Ruth occasionally accompanies her mother to the market, where she helps keep guard of the stall as Ms Kasyoka rushes home several times a day to see how her youngest son is fairing on.

Her son is sickly and is usually left at home under the care of her sister-in-law.


"My youngest child has cerebral palsy so he cannot leave the house much. But I prefer that Ruth stays close to me as I can watch her better this way," she said.

Ms Kasyoka noted that the high number of teenage pregnancies, defilement cases and increased kidnappings informed her decision to bring her daughter with her to the market.

"Ruth is now a pre-teen, and I have seen worrying reports in the news of how lives of teenagers are being affected because of either being idle or not having someone to look over them. I just want the best for my daughter," she said.

However, not all children at the market are pre-teens and teenagers. Beverage vendor Wanja Kiluma brings her six-year-old daughter to work with her every day.


She does not trust anyone with her child, particularly house-helps, noting that she is the only one who can provide the best care to her daughter.

"She usually plays around the stall and occasionally reads some of her school books," she noted.

In residential areas, the observation is much different. Most children, including pre-teens and teenagers, are often left to play or hang out with each other.

However, in some business premises such as retail shops, children often help their parents in small tasks such as watching over the shop.


Mr Robert Njoroge, a retail shop owner in Ruaka, told the Nation that sometimes he allows his daughter to serve customers.

He further noted that although he prefers his daughter to play with her friends, the few minutes at the shop sharpen her skills.

Ms Grace Nyambura also owns a small grocery stall in Ruaka, where she sells foodstuffs from noon. Her son helps her look over the foodstuffs as she quickly rushes home to take care of his younger siblings.

The activities have helped his son to be more curious about business.

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