Grace Wangeci is a business lady and the founder of Mama Safi Garbage Collectors, a venture dedicated to collecting trash and ensuring the environment is always clean.
True to the words, don’t judge a book by its cover, it would be hard to tell that Ms. Wangeci is a holder of a Bachelor’s in Aeronautical Engineering. She completed her degree in 2010.
However, she faced the job menace most Kenyan fresh graduates succumb to. Ms. Wangeci went unemployed for 2 years, knocking on the shut doors of opportunities until she decided to indulge herself in a completely different field; environmental care and protection.
“I tarmacked for 2 years and then decided to move to Kasarani in 2012,” she said in a previous interview.
In 2012, the mother of one decided to start her own garbage cleaning service in her neighborhood in Kasarani. At first, a landlord contracted her to collect garbage in a plot with 20 tenants.
“I started with a wheelbarrow and later moved to a handcart which I used to rent and pay Sh. 100 daily,” she recalled.
With time, Ms. Wangeci was invited to several plots and homes to collect garbage with her handcart. The business grew exponentially. She collected garbage with her team of 3 young men, at least four times a week.
Grace Wangeci revealed that her business enabled her to create employment for three people whom she pays Sh. 800 daily.
“I have three people who also collect garbage and I pay them Sh. 800 a day,” she disclosed.
A typical day in her line of work would start at 6 am. They collect garbage thrown out in the streets first before proceeding to plots and homes.
Thereafter, they categorize the waste into recyclable and those to be dumped. The recyclable waste, such as plastic, metal etc, is weighed and she is paid according to scales.
“I’ve been working with Mama Safi garbage collectors since 2017. She does a very good job ensuring the environment is clean,” one plot resident said.
However, Grace Wangeci faces stigma from most of society due to her line of work. Asked about her lowest moment in the job, she reveals that her young daughter finding out she was a garbage collector took a toll on her emotionally.
“My 8-year-old daughter didn’t know my job. One day I went to school and coincidentally her classmate, who I collect garbage at their place, saw me.”
“He rushed to my daughter and said ‘Melanie, unajua mama yako anaokota takataka zetu?’ My daughter cried the whole day. She wanted me to have a job where I go to town like other mothers, carrying a handbag,” Ms. Wangechi remembered.
“I explained to her the situation and eventually she came to understand,” she added.