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Lucy Kioko: Woman Who Left Saudi Arabia Househelp Job Turns to Selling Uji Power in Kiambu

With a diploma in Travel Operations from Utalii College, Lucy Kioko had high hopes for a career that would elevate her family’s financial standing.

However, after living and working as a househelp in Saudi Arabia for two years, Lucy’s dreams turned into a nightmare.

She endured severe mistreatment and returned to Kenya, determined to find a new path.

Lucy’s story began with the aspiration to secure greener pastures abroad.

In January 2021, she left her home country for Saudi Arabia, seeking opportunities that she believed would transform her life and that of her family.

The reality, however, was starkly different. In her first days, she was poisoned and fell seriously ill.

The children she cared for were disrespectful and abusive, and the 95-year-old family matriarch would invade her privacy and physically assault her.

Despite the house being under constant CCTV surveillance, Lucy had no recourse to defend herself or report the abuse.

The situation became untenable, and by early April 2024, Lucy decided to return to Kenya.

Her departure was marred by injustice as she left without receiving her salary or even her clothes, although the latter were later sent to her.

Back in Kenya, Lucy had to quickly find a means to support herself and her family.

Drawing from her resourcefulness, she ventured into the business of selling uji (porridge) in Kiambu.

Starting the business was not without challenges, but Lucy’s determination saw her through. She began by acquiring basic equipment: large sufurias, lids, cups, and a 20-liter jerrican to carry the porridge.

Her business model was simple yet effective. She catered to two distinct market segments with different types of uji. The first type, priced at KSh 30 (often negotiated down to KSh 20 or KSh 10), was aimed at manual laborers.

The second, a premium variety known as uji power, was targeted at wealthier clients and sold for KSh 60 per cup.

Although the business is physically demanding, requiring her to carry heavy loads of porridge, it provides a steady income.

Lucy can afford to rent two rooms for herself and her helper and send money home to support her partly paralyzed mother, who had sacrificed greatly for her children’s education.