A day in the life #3 (2008)

Here is a typical day in Nyemo’s life.

It’s 6.30am so Nyemo is less than active.

Time stamp. This is the only decoration within the house.

Breakfast consists of Uji (gruel). I didn’t think gruel existed outside of Charles Dickens novels, but I was wrong. Here is Mariam, Nyemo’s 22 year old mother with Sarah, her 9 month old daughter. She already has 4 children!

Kenneth is Nyemo’s Dad. He is hoping to end up with 10 kids!

Nom nom nom! I had a small amount of gruel and it’s fair to say it was disgusting.

After breakfast the family collects water. They pay 50p (80c) a month for use of a standpipe. Fortunately this gives them unlimited use as I distracted Nyemo causing the bucket to overflow!

Even five year old Willy gets roped in to help. He is on the right hand side.

Thomas the Tank Engine, FTW! This is Emmanuel, Nyemo’s 3 year old brother.

The mornings are the coolest part of the day and so it’s the best time for farm work.

I joined in, but found it hard determining what was the crop and what were weeds so I gave up before I caused too much damage.

The younger children draw in the sand. I guess they have little need for pens and paper.

After work, we head back to the family house.

This is a scorpion hole. The ground is littered with them and they terrify me.

Nyemo relaxes at home…

…as her mother sets about preparing lunch.

Maize is poured into this giant pestle and mortar…

…and then battered the heck out of until the husks separate from the innards.

I turned my hand at it, but wasn’t much good.

Meanwhile Kenneth went off to get some other food. Here he is plucking leaves off a tree.

Timestamp. It is still way too early but the food takes a long time to prepare.

Once the maize has been smashed up, it is then separated out by tossing.

The large bits are then put back into the grinder and pummeled once again.

Rather than each family keeping a fire lit all day, they simply borrow bits of lit wood and charcoal from their neighbours.

Nyemo and Willy crack on with their chores.

Nyemo’s aunt helps prepare the leaves. Here she seperates them from the stalks.

These chickens cracked me up. The cock stood tall and proud in the middle as his trio of babes formed a protective ring.

The family is very poor and so there is no money to get toys. As such the kids show their resourcefulness by making their own toy cars.

Vroom vroom!

Tasteful timestamp!

The leaves are boiled with water to form a paste which closely resembled slime.

Meanwhile the maize flour is boiled up to form ugalee. Cooking takes place indoors in a room seperate from the main house and it was so smokey I could only stay for a couple of minutes. God only knows what her lungs are like.

Handwashing time again

The ugalee is rolled into a ball and then dipped in the slime. I didn’t try any but I think I can guess how it tastes.

After lunch Nyemo looks after her sister Sarah.

Whilst Emmanuel and two friends pretend they are riding a motorbike.


Nyemo’s grandmother swings by with a pot. She started speaking to me – I think she wanted me to go and visit her house, but I really didn’t have the energy and so feigned ignorance.

The children play a game where broken ceramics are placed in a circle and they have to use stones to knock pieces out. Im amazed by the ingenuity of children to find ways entertain themselves.

The sun is starting to set. As the house has no electricity, their day ends fairly soon after sunset.

Nyemo is back in charge of her sister.


For supper the family eat the lumps of maize which are a byproduct of ugalee.

Maize is 15p (25c) a kilo and on this day three kilos provided 16 meals.

Here are the four children of Mariam and Kenneth together.

Final timestamp.

Nyemo shares this bed with her two brothers and they sleep in their clothes.


About Imo & Tom Feilding

I'm in my 30s and work for the University of Bristol, I regularly visit Buigiri Village slapbang in the centre of Tanzania in East Africa. It is a very poor semi-desert area. I spend much of my time and money helping individuals improve their situation and I write about it on here.
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