What Is Daily Life Like for Kenya’s Girls?

These girls are like any girls, anywhere. They love to learn and play and have big dreams. However, like more than one-third of Kenyans, they live below the poverty line, and they face confronting challenges.

With the support of Compassion’s local church partners, these girls have the care they need to rise above their circumstances with determination and hope.

Welcome to a day in the life of Kenya’s girls!


Silhouette of a woman's profile.

Habari za asubuhi; good morning! One by one, around the country, the girls rise to greet the day. Yawning and rubbing their eyes, they spring out of bed. (Or perhaps they need to be coaxed out from under the blankets, grumbling.)

Some push aside the mosquito nets that protect them from malaria; others nudge aside younger siblings who share their mattress.

Abigail is sleeping on a bed under her mosquito net. There is a red blanket covering her.

Breakfast in Kenya tends to be simple. A cup of hot, milky chai, bread, porridge or fruit. However, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, plus recent droughts and locust plagues, mean many girls will start their day hungry. Over 11 percent of Kenya’s children are underweight, and UNICEF reports that more than a quarter of children under 5 have stunted growth.

Since the pandemic began, Compassion’s local church partners have organized mobile cash transfers to vulnerable families so they can feed their families.

Morning Chores

Faith is wearing a blue dress and a gray sweatshirt. They are bothShe is kneeling down and getting water from a dug out in the river.

Before heading off to school, Kenya’s girls usually help their families with the morning chores.

In Kitui County, eastern Kenya, 8-year-old Faith collects water from the riverbed. One-third of Kenyans rely on “unimproved water sources” like ponds, shallow wells and rivers. Unless they have a simple way to treat the water, it can put children at risk of dangerous waterborne diseases.

Girl tending goats.

Maindi, 8, milks her family’s goat. She is part of the Rendille people of eastern Kenya, an Indigenous tribe that traditionally lives a nomadic lifestyle while caring for their animals.

After Maindi finishes the milking, she walks to school. Because she is registered in Compassion’s program, she is the first child in her family to receive a formal education.

Time for School

Gaudencia is wearing a white dress with a blue pattern. She is walking through the streets which are full of people.

Many girls in Kenya face a long walk to school, particularly in rural areas. It’s not unusual for them to walk several miles each way. Gaudencia walks through the streets of her neighborhood in Mathare, one of Nairobi’s largest slums.

Children in a classroom sitting behind shared desks.

In Kenya, every child has the right to free and compulsory basic education. The country has made significant literacy gains in recent years, but crowded classrooms and poor-quality teaching can still affect the quality of children’s learning. In some areas, the pupil-to-teacher ratio is as high as 77-to-1.

As part of Compassion’s program, children receive education support. It could be additional tutoring, lessons at their child development center or covering the costs of school fees, uniforms and supplies.

Afternoon Chores

Harvesting food from a garden.

Back at home, many of Kenya’s girls have a few jobs to do before they are free for the afternoon. In their seaside community, Flora, 13, helps her mother dig in their vegetable garden. The main veggies families grow are potatoes, tomatoes, cabbages, snow peas, kale, beans and carrots.

Praise, a 10 year old child, girl, sponsored child, wearing a red dress, bends over to help her mother, parent, adult woman, wash and clean dishes, daily household chores, outside using a large blue tub and soap.

Ten-year-old Praise helps her grandmother to scrub clothes with soap before rinsing them clean and hanging them to dry on a line under the bright sun.


Tracy is pictured here sitting behind a display of fruits at her grandmother's shop.

Tracy sits in her grandmother’s grocery kiosk after school. In between helping her serve customers, Tracy does her homework. “I love to help my grandmother at the shop, plus it also helps me to know how to talk to people and to practice mathematics because of working out the change to give,” she says.

An adolescent girl in a navy blue and red striped shirt sits on a blue sofa at a coffee table looking at and using a black laptop computer with her hands on the keyboard. There are a blue cup and a cell phone on the table. There is another couch with a black backpack on it. The walls are white with black splatters on them.

Synthia types up her schoolwork on a laptop. In 2017, she and her friends invented a mobile app to abolish female genital mutilation. It won second prize in the Google-sponsored Technovation challenge! She learned to use a computer at her Compassion center, and this helped her develop an interest in technology.

Maindi sits on the floor in her home and works on her homework.

Maindi does her homework in the afternoon so she can concentrate before her older siblings and father return home from tending their animals. Her home doesn’t have electricity, so when it gets dark, she uses a kerosene lamp.

Time for Fun

Group portraits and shots of teen girls playing outside project in Solai, Kenya

With chores complete and homework out of the way, it’s time for fun! Mary plays “keep away” with staff outside her local Compassion child development center.

Leach is seen here wearing a bright yellow shirt, standing in front of a corrugated metal fence. She is holding a puppy, and is smiling at the camera.

Leach shows off an adorable puppy in her community in Nairobi. The 12-year-old wants to be a teacher when she grows up. “I want to make a positive impact in the lives of little kids … and give them hope for the future,” she says.

Praise, a 10 year old girl, wearing a red athletic sport shirt, kicks at a soccer ball on the dirt ground playing with another child.

Praise lines up a goal at the local soccer field in western Kenya. Soccer is the most popular sport in the country.

Leach is one of Kenya's girls. She is smiling and looking at the camera as she is wearing her pink dress and shoes.

Leach twirls in her favorite dress — a Christmas gift from her sponsor.


Evening cooking and dinner outside with Salama and her family, all sitting on woven mat.

Salama and her family eat dinner outside together while sitting on a woven mat. With lots of siblings and cousins, their typical meal of bean stew and ugali (maize or cassava-flour porridge) is chaotic and full of laughter.

Leach and her grandmother are seen here laughing and smiling and making Chapati, or Indian flatbread.

Leach helps her grandmother make her favorite meal — chapati. In Kenya, the flatbread is a special treat that is eaten on special occasions. Leach’s family served it on Christmas Day.


Abigail is wearing a light pink dress and is holding a mosquito net up above her head.

Abigail gets ready for bed in the Rift Valley. The area has beautiful, expansive lakes plus swampy marshes, so mosquitos call the area home too. She sleeps under a mosquito net at night to protect herself from malaria and yellow fever. “I can now sleep throughout the night without waking up to fight with mosquitoes,” she says.

Shaniz is one of Kenya's girls. She is wearing a red dress with a blue floral print jacket. She is sitting on a bed in her home and is holding a teddy bear. There are red curtains in the window.

Usiku mwema! Goodnight from Kenya’s girls. Tomorrow is another day, and it is full of hope.

Photography and reporting from Kenya by Isaac Ogila and Kevin Ouma.

4 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Julz Muya April 18, 2022

    Kenyans want stories that represent us accurately. For anyone who has never visited Kenya, this would be misleading for them because whereas some girls are living in extreme poverty, we have made progress. It is our responsibility as journalists to give a comprehensive view of what life is really like for us Kenyan girls. Otherwise it would be misleading to your donors. They need to know that there are other agencies who are doing amazing work to make a difference in the lives of all children. Life is also hard for Kenyan boys as well. They are also under represented.

    I appreciate the work that compassion international is doing in Kenya. I give to organizations that highlight our country in a positive light because we are resilient people. I also appreciate that compassion does not fund orphanages.

  2. Indi March 27, 2022

    I just signed up to sponsor a little girl in Kenya today. It was not intended at first. I have a list of kids that I pray to find sponsors – something I started doing when I realized that sponsoring one was not all I wanted to do. I pray for children based on certain dates, such as the birth dates of family. March 27th is one that I pray for a lot too, because it was the day my mom died when I was eight years old. I wanted to be refocusing some of that pain and loss into something beautiful. All the beautiful little faces born on that day are a reminder that God creates good and that He is present in loss.

    After I started correspondent writing a month or two ago, I had a dream and believed that I would be connected to a little girl from Africa soon. I had dreamt that there was another beautiful face that I was destined to connect with somehow. I thought that it would be another correspondent kiddo and prayed that I would be connected to her soon. I’m on the list and thought that was how it would go.

    As I was updating my list a couple weeks ago for the March 27th pray-for-sponsors list, I happened to see this beautiful, smiling girl from Kenya. As I wrote down some details to be praying for her and her family while they waited for a sponsor (I usually note who is the guardian and how many siblings to be extra prayerful with the ones with large families and little support), I noticed that this little girl had seven other siblings and was living with a grandmother. I know that FGM can occur in Kenya, as well as child marriage, at a higher rate than some other countries, and the idea of that happening to this beautiful little girl broke my heart. I knew that her family in particular would benefit from having a sponsor who would pour love into them.

    I started praying for her but something different started capturing my heart. I felt like this was maybe one of the ones that I needed to take. It felt like a lot to add another kid right now, but there have been a few times when I have felt God clearly place something on my heart and this was another one of those times. I told God that if she was still available for sponsorship today – her birthday – that I would do it and He would provide a way. There have been a few others that I have considered but He connected them with sponsors before I was sure that I was the one for them. I knew that if it was His will for someone else to sponsor this little girl, she would be gone. Last night at 12:04 I looked it up and she was still there. I added in a few extra prayers and then again a little further on today. She was still there with that beautiful, beautiful smile that grabbed my heart from the start.

    So, today I am glad to say that I am putting my faith into action and trying to follow God. Adding to my little girl in Honduras, my precious Dayana, and my correspondent boy in Burkina Faso, Sakali, I am thrilled to be adding the girl of my dreams – literally! – Damaris. I can’t wait for her to be added to myCompassion account so that I can learn more about her and fall more in love with this sweetheart.

    This is a really long story, but where better to gush about Compassion than on the blog? Other people’s stories of stepping out in faith to sponsor more kids inspired me. Although I felt happy with one little girl, there was something that kept telling me, “Really? That’s all? Are you *sure* God isn’t calling for more? Hmmmm?” I had known that the second child I sponsored (I had been planning to sponsor more in the future) would likely be a March 27th baby to redeem that date for me, and God connected me to Damaris. I can’t wait to see His plan for both of us through this connection. For a God who makes beauty out of ashes, making beauty out of us shouldn’t be too hard. 😉

    And also? It’s really nice to be shedding tears of joy today. Really, really nice.

    1. Elizabeth March 28, 2022

      Indi, thank you so much for sharing your beautiful sponsorship story of sweet Damaris. Your heart for your sponsored and correspondent children is so evident. Dayana, Sakali, and Damaris are so fortunate to have you pouring into their lives and filling them with hope, love, and encouragement. Thank you for praying so diligently for Compassion children! We are so thankful to have you in the Compassion family!

  3. Sharyn McClure June 29, 2021

    I loved reading this and seeing the pictures. What beautiful people and thank Compassion International for providing so many necessities for these children.

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