The woman you see washing the clothes in basin with the little boys is doing her "clothes washing" business. She washes some clothing items each day in this water (which isn't real clean - but the best available) and she gets paid a few pennies per piece from others who live there. She was glad to have me take a photo of her with her children, doing her clothes business.
There is no electricity, running water or sewers in the slums. Water by the jug, is purchased from those who have illegally tapped the city water main. The rate of HIV infection is difficult to determine since few are tested, but it is assumed that most adults are HIV positive. Once becoming infected the average life span of an adult is five years due to the lack of any medical attention at all. Amazingly most children are born free of the infection. Those that are infected usually die within months of childbirth, so most school-aged children are free of HIV. Due to the rate that adults die of AIDS, there are thousands of orphaned children living in the slums. Many live with the oldest child - perhaps 10 years old - being the head of the household in a 8' x 6' rusted-tin shanty where 6 or more may sleep on cardboard.
This woman here at the right invited me into her "home" which was just a little square of dirt inside, about 6 ft. by 4 ft., dirt floor, tin roof and plastic grocery bags lining the sides to make "walls". She has been very sick. Months ago she had an operation paid for by the government but when she came back "home" she was not able to heal and keeps getting infections because her living conditions are so horrible.
While I was in the Mathare slums, I was invited in to three homes by various people, this woman being one of them. I couldn't believe how small they were - none were more than 6 ft. by 6 ft. and they were all dark...no light at all, and had nothing more than a broken chair or small mattress on the floor. It is mind blowing to realize that some people in the world live this way. Some of the "big boys" of Mathare live here including Peter, the worship leader I met. I was shocked to walk through one of the alleys and see him in a doorway. I said, "Peter! What are you doing here?" He smiled and said, "this is my house." AMAZING.
By the way, Peter and Moses (another one of the "Big Boys" from Mathare A/G) have been keeping in touch with me once I got to the USA, by e-mail. Obviously, they don't have email living here in the slums with no electricity however they walk somewhere where they have access to a computer and e-mail various ones they want to keep in touch with. These boys are amazing to me. They love the Lord with all their hearts and have a dream of getting out of Mathare Valley and following the call of God upon their lives. I pray for them daily. Oh how they have touched my heart.