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Stone Cutters and Laborers near Likoni, Kenya

Todd Shapera | Kenya

A stonecutter chiseling rock under a hot sun. The quarry is near the Indian Ocean outside Likoni, Kenya. On a good day, one man can produce 30 bricks, earning him under $4 for the back-breaking work.

Likoni, Kenya is the poorest area of  Mombasa, Kenya's second largest city and East Africa's largest port.  Workers earn $2-4 per day from informal street vending, stone quarrying, and day labor at the port.  It's enough to pay for family food and rent for one room homes with no plumbing.  

At a remote quarry along a coastal road, men wield heavy picks under hot sun to chisel out bricks from white stone.  Most work barefoot, in shredded clothes, while breathing white dust.  Each afternoon a truck collects their bricks. On a good day, men  produce 30 bricks in six hours, earning 300 schillings, or about $3.75 for this back-breaking work..

Some men were local, others traveled as far as 2,000 km for this work.

Along the coast, I encountered artisans in small shops, food vendors, coconut plant workers, health workers, and women attending a micro-finance meeting.

An NGO, Hatua Likoni, started by New Yorker Gabrielle Fondiller, provides scholarships to help families in Likoni pay school fees for their children.  Hatua Likoni also supports these students with books, meals, mentoring, a library, and  special classes.  During my stay, I photographed students in school and at home, and offered two Sunday photography workshops with donated point-and-shoot cameras from clients in New York.

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