Logistics Teammate Jacinta Muendo helps keep Mukuru clean and healthy
Only about 10-15% of Nairobi’s informal settlements are serviced by sewers. Residents in areas without sewer coverage are frequently exposed to festering waste and often contract hygiene-related illnesses. In fact, 72% of childhood disease in urban Kenya is linked to poor sanitation and fecal contamination. While Sanergy works towards providing clean, hygienic and accessible toilet facilities to these communities, we simultaneously contribute to cleaner communities through our waste collection services.
Our Logistics teammates manage a network of 748 Fresh Life Toilets and guarantee collection whenever needed – which is usually once a day. Divided into teams of two to four people and assigned a particular collection route, the teams service each Fresh Life Toilet and replace two filled cartridges (a urine cartridge and a fecal waste cartridge) with clean, empty ones to give our users a fresh experience at all times. The collectors then transport the cartridges containing waste to Sanergy’s transfer station where the waste is weighed and loaded into larger containers and finally transported to the processing facility for conversion into by-products. So far, this team had helped us safely remove over 6,200 metric tons of waste from the community!
This week we profile Logistics teammate Jacinta Muendo, who has worked in this department for two years. From humble beginnings, Jacinta says she is now confident about her future. “Having a steady income has allowed me to take care of my family and better understand the direction I would like my career to take in the near future,” she says.
Born and raised in Makueni County, 27-year-old Jacinta moved to Nairobi in 2006 in search of a job and better opportunities. However, things were not looking bright for her; she only had enough money to live on and largely depended on casual jobs, which were highly unstable. “Here in Nairobi, those with some level of education always get first priority, and unfortunately I had dropped out of high school because I was unable to pay the school fees,” she recalls.
In 2011, Jacinta decided to create her own source of income by setting up as an M-pesa agent, providing mobile money services to customers. “I had saved some money and learnt some hands-on skills in business management from the various casual jobs I was doing. I put these lessons to use in running my shop” she says.
One year after she set up her business, Jacinta wanted to expand, but the income she earned was not enough. To supplement her income, she began to look for additional work.
A friend told her about a casual job opportunity at Sanergy, and she was recruited along with eight other women to work as cartridge cleaners within the Logistics team. Even though it was the first time Jacinta had heard about Fresh Life Toilets, she had experienced firsthand the lack of hygienic sanitation in Mukuru, where she had lived before relocating to neighboring Kware County.
Jacinta’s typical day at work begins at 7am; she arrives at the waste transfer station in Mukuru and prepares the day’s working tools with her teammates. “I begin by filling our cleaning stands with clean water,” she says. They clean and disinfect over 1,000 cartridges on a daily basis and neatly arrange them according to their specific locations in preparation for the next day’s waste collection. Jacinta and her colleagues then clean the transfer site and prepare a schedule for the following day.
Jacinta’s diligence and dedication to her work inspire her teammates every day. “Jacinta is never late for work; she is a cooperative teammate, making it easy for us to accomplish our tasks efficiently and on time,” says her teammate Millicent Awuoth.
Jacinta’s hard work has already paid off; last year she transitioned to a full-time position at Sanergy. “This is my first full-time job, and so far it has been a positive and educational experience,” she beams. Besides providing better for her two children Hilda and Deavande, Jacinta can simultaneously save a portion of her income to re-open her M-pesa business and expand it with an accompanying retail shop.
In addition, she has learnt the importance of proper hygiene and safety measures — at work and at home. “I am now a strong advocate for hygiene, not just in my family but also among my peers. I can capably perform First Aid during emergencies and teach hygienic practices such as proper hand washing.”
This is just the beginning for Jacinta; she is ambitious to make the most of what life has to offer. She is now determined to complete her studies and is in the process of enrolling for an adults’ secondary education program. In the long term, she wants to pursue a career teaching young children.
With our hardworking and dedicated Logistics team, we are confident we will achieve our goal of cleaner and healthier communities!