World Bulletin / News Desk
A widow, she lives in a mud-walled house with her three children in a village next to a highway in Korogwe, Tanzania.
She is among hundreds of women from families considered extremely poor who have been chosen to receive cash payments as part of a government effort to help lift citizens from the quagmires of poverty.
Mkendo got a 355,000-Tanzanian shillings ($166) grant which she used to set up a small food vending facility selling a range of local dishes including rice, vegetables, meat, chicken and ugali (a flour dish) to travelers on the highway so she can earn a regular income.
“This business has lifted my life. Even if I experience a bad harvest I am sure of bringing something to the table dinner table,” she says.
Although she has now the means of financial security, Mkendo, whose husband died of HIV/AIDS three years ago, still lives in a dilapidated two-bedroom shack. Her two sons, aged 18 and 16, share a three-and-a-half-by-six-foot spring bed in one of the rooms.
Mkendo sleeps in the other room with her daughter aged four. Dusty old clothes are hanging on the wall. Chicken droppings litter the mud floor.
“I have many plans to lift my life up. With the help of God I will succeed” she says.