Voices on the Move

Aster fled to Kenya from Ethiopia in search of better economic opportunities.
February 07, 2012 Written by: Leandro Oduor

"I left so my family can eat"

Aster Hayat is a 24 year old unmarried Ethiopian woman who fled to Kenya in search of work so that she could support her mother back home. 
Q. What made you leave your country? 
“We were so poor in Ethiopia. There was no work, and life was difficult. We did not have enough to eat and my mother was crying to feeding us….but she is old. I did not know what to do. Then my neighbor told me go to Kenya and work. I cried when I left my family… but I left so my family can eat.”

Q. How did you come to Kenya?
“We had a little money, some I borrowed from my neighbor. Then I went to the border at Moyale. The immigration people were being very bad and asking a lot of questions. Some man, he came to me and said if I give him money, no more questions, just crossing the border. I gave him USD20. He took me and some others to Isiolo by a big car. Sometimes he would stop the car and tell us to walk in the bushes then he would collect us again. I think this was to avoid the police.

In Isiolo, the man put us on a bus to Nairobi, I think he cheated us and took so much money – Ksh 5,000 ( USD 58), saying it was to get the ticket but I was too much in fear to say anything…he knew I was Ethiopian and no papers.”

Q. What happed when you arrived in Nairobi?

“I came to Nairobi because I heard there are more jobs and many Ethiopians in Eastleigh. Some very nice Ethiopian people helped me to find work in a beauty shop (saloon) in Eastleigh.”

Q. Are there any problems you face living in Nairobi?
“The police. I have no papers and they take you to jail or you give them money. Every time I save some money to send to my mother, the police take it. Now there is war with Kenya and Somalia, the police are more bad. They do not listen when we tell them that we are Ethiopian not Somali.  I want to save money so I go to South Africa. I need USD 2,000. Life will be better there….”

Contact Us

Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat
DRC East Africa & Great Lakes
Lower Kabete Road
(Ngecha Road Junction)
P.O.Box 14762, 00800
Westlands, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 709867 000


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