Caroline grew up in the slums of Mathare Valley in an area named Kosovo. She had a sponsor in America who provided for her to go to school until she reached high school. She has loved everything about beauty since she was a young girl, always having her hair braided and nails done. She was creative from a young age and loved doing hair. She got pregnant at 15 and dropped out of school. She was married to the father of her child. However, he was murdered by police, who mistook him for a robber.
Caroline reminisced of her husband and how good he was to her. Unlike most husbands in Mathare, he was kind to her and was very helpful. He cared for their daughter, Stacy, and even helped with the cooking. She says she didn’t realize how good he was until he died. She sees other women and how terribly their husbands treat them and it only deepens the pain of how badly she misses her husband.
After her husband’s death, she was forced to move in with her mother. Her mother has allowed Caroline and her daughter, Stacy, along with her two cousins and their children to live with them in their one room shanty. This one room shanty made of thin sheet metal is about 12×12 feet, which is smaller than the size of most American bedrooms. The seven of them sleep on the dirt floor wherever they can find room. It has been so hard for Caroline to find work since she was unable to finish her education. All she has been able to find is common work, such as doing laundry for neighbors for 50 Kenyan Shillings a day (about 30 American cents). Occasionally, she braids her neighbors and friends hair for very little money.
While attending church at Kosovo, she overheard two social workers talking about the beauty school that would be starting in June. She became so excited and asked what she had to do to join. The social workers gave her the information and she was so excited to get home to tell her daughter, Stacy, (who is now 14 years old). Stacy attends Joska which is a boarding school in the countryside of Kenya, is in 8th grade, is very bright, and hopes to be a lawyer. Caroline has wanted so badly to be able to provide a better life them than the one they have been living for so long.
Caroline told me, “I am so grateful. I thank God for this opportunity. I feel my future will be so smart because I will finally be able to get new clothes for Stacy and hopefully one day we will be able to move to a house where we will have a bathroom. Stacy can have her own room and we will be much happier.”
On the first day of school, Caroline came early. That is not typical of Kenyans. She says she does not want to miss a minute of learning. She hopes to one day own her own salon and make others look and feel beautiful. Caroline is driven to be successful for herself and for Stacy. With her drive, it will be impossible to fail.