Making life colourful

Tulaga Flowers: Caroline Shikuku

Caroline Shikuku

Life in a farming community

Before covid, I would start my day at 5am, prepare my child for school then make my way to the flower farm. Since the pandemic started I have been waking up at 5:40am every morning for me to able to get to work by 7am. I work 6 days a week, from Sunday to Friday. Saturdays are my off days. At the farm, my shift starts immediately I report to work. This is usually from 7am to 3:40pm with a one hour lunch break from 1pm.

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Figure 1: Photo of Caroline Shikuku

Impact of Covid

We were not prepared for the pandemic and its effects. At my workplace, we took a break for two months on half salary. We would work for two weeks in a month then stay at home for the other two. We were divided into two groups where one group would be working in the farm while the other group would be at home on leave. Being on half salary came with its challenges. I was forced to cut on costs and prioritise spending on house rent and food. At some point it became a struggle having to survive on half pay. We however got support from Fairtrade who authorized use of Fairtrade Premiums for purchase of relief food for all the workers. Some of us had taken loans from Fairtrade Premiums which we usually repay by monthly deductions from our salaries. Fairtrade intervened and stopped the deductions since we were on half pay.

FairVoice Project
I joined FairVoice in order to share to the outside world what my community was going through during the pandemic. The most memorable story that I did as part of the FairVoice assignment was the first one that sought to find out how I felt or reacted when corona was first reported in Kenya. This is what I shared; “I was not prepared to deal with corona. When the first positive case was announced in the country I was very afraid. I would spend most of my two-week leave in the house. I would ensure that my kids would wash their hands whenever they got back from playing outside. I would try to imagine that if one person in my family tests positive then chances were high that the disease would spread to the other family members and even to friends. That made me afraid and take extra precaution.

Message to the UK public
My message to the UK public is that they continue buying our flowers. They should make more orders and buy even shorter length stalks. Their continued purchase would greatly impact our lives.

Effects of Climate Change
I use a charcoal stove for my cooking. The cost of charcoal has risen lately due to bans on cutting down trees for making charcoal. This has forced me to spend more money on buying charcoal.