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Female graduate resorts to working as “Shoe Shiner” to survive, says it’s better than begging


A Ugandan lady, Beryl Zawadi, has shared the story of how she became a shoe shiner and faced judgmental eyes as people were not used to seeing a woman in such trade.

The Bachelor of Arts in Education graduate works as a shoe shiner along Uganda Road in Eldoret.

The Moi University alumnus in an interview with TUKO, said that shining people’s shoes, a job she had never thought she would do when she was on campus, is what puts food on her table.
Inside the wooden box where she keeps her tools of the trade are also her academic credentials.

Her undergraduate degree certificate indicates she attained Second Class Honours Upper-division.

She said; “I carry the certificates with me with the expectation that one day I could meet someone in need of my professional skills”.

According to the 25-year-old, life demands and the need to be self-reliant made her settle for shoe shining, a job that is not highly regarded, especially by graduates.

The lady said she travelled from her Homa Bay home to Kitale to search for employment opportunities.

“I trained as an English Literature teacher and as everyone would expect I should be teaching. With the high number of public and private schools, it is not easy for a trained teacher to say they are jobless,” the graduate explained.
She said her first days at work left many tongues wagging as some passersby wondered such a young lady would opt for a “dirty” job.

Zawadi says her parents were at first perplexed to hear she had become a shoe shiner in the city miles away from home. They, however, embraced her and offered support after realizing she was determined to sustain her livelihood through the trade.

Even as she says she learnt and continued to learn a lot from established shoe shiners, most of whom are men, she hopes to one day secure a career in her professional line.

I have been applying for numerous slots in the education sector in vain. I won’t lose hope because teaching is my passion and one day I will do it formally. Meanwhile, I am happy at my workplace. It’s this job that feeds and takes care of my needs which is better than money gotten from begging or opting for other unethical shortcuts,” she said.

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