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Raising my children by myself

Faridah Salim Khamis lets us in on her journey as a single mother as well as wearing the shoes of a father

Grace Wachira @yaa_grace

She had left her marriage twice. And Faridah Salim Khamis has no regrets. She left her first marriage in 2010 when her husband turned abusive and disrespectful. She packed and left with her children. She decided to take that path rather than bring up her children in an abusive family.

And just when she thought she had found love later, two years ago, it just didn’t work and she left her second marriage in 2016. Faridah had witnessed her step-mum raise them on her own when their dad passed on.

“My father married my stepmother when I was quite young, but she brought me up like her own. When I was in Class Five, he passed on and being the tough woman that she is, she raised all eight of us by herself. I draw a lot of my strength from her,” she recalls. To make ends meet, Faridah is an Uber driver. She get cars from partners, but she hopes to buy her own by the end of this year.

“My day starts early at 2am and I get home at 3pm. I get along with my clients well and most of them become regular,” a bubbly Faridah says. Faridah who is a mother of four, three girls and a boy says that thanks to her nanny, nurturing her brood has been bearable. “I have had her for six years now and she helps take care of my youngest daughter, three, when I leave for work,” she explains.

After she sets her destination for home at 3pm, she goes offline and has time to keep up with her daughters and son. “I help them with homework. I also look forward to bonding with my children as we laugh and chat,” she adds.

On a good week, she makes as much as Sh30,000. “My older children aged 16 and 13 years are in boarding school. This leaves me with my son and daughter aged eight and three. And you know children will always be children.

They always want me to bring them something after work, say chicken, chocolate, chips and other goodies,” says Faridah. The single mother foots the bills all by herself. “I never once saw my mother receive handouts even when we were sent home for school fees. She always made ends meet and I, the same way,” she affirms. Over time, she has had to step up and wears the pants too.

“I am their father and mother. I tell them they can make it in life, especially my girls. I want them to dream big,” she adds. However, she lets the father of her children see them from time to time. “We may not see eye to eye, but that does not mean he cannot come and see his children. They still need a father figure and it is important they have him around,” she says.

The girls are taking after her. “When I was in primary and secondary school, I was actively involved in drama and so are they,” she laughs. Last year, her oldest daughter made it to the nationals and it made her beam with pride.

“Even her younger sister is now in the drama club. They have made me a proud mother,” she says. To instill values in her children, she dutifully ensures they attend their madrassa classes. “The last two attend their classes over the weekends and when they are done, we go out for chicken and chocolate. Over the holidays, when we’re a full house, we go out or stay indoors and enjoy a good movie or cartoon,” she notes.

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