American woman who came to Kenya as a missionary, found love, and is now a street vendor in Kisumu

  • Four years later, Sylvia is a renowned street food vendor in Kisumu, famous for the pretzels that she makes at her shop in the town’s carwash area.
  • Citizens TV’s Laura Otieno spent the day with Sylvia to understand her experience on the hawking scene.

When Sylvia Bichanga came to Kenya in 2016 as a missionary alongside her family, she was unaware of the turn her life was about to take.

Four years later, Sylvia is a renowned street food vendor in Kisumu, famous for the pretzels that she makes at her shop in the town’s carwash area.

Citizens TV’s Laura Otieno spent the day with Sylvia to understand her experience on the hawking scene and how she operates beyond the curious gazes she meets while at work.

“My name is Sylvia Miller, I have taken my husband’s name of Bichanga. I started Mzungu Pretzels to bring American street food to the people of carwash where everyone can try unique food,” she said.

“I came to Kenya 4 years ago with my mom and dad and brothers as missionaries, but they went home after they were done with the mission and that is when I got married to my husband who is a Kenyan man and I have now had this business for two months.”

She added: “My friend cooks the food and then we pack it in plastic containers along with serviettes, then I take a pikipiki to town and come back in the evening because in the evening here it gets busier not like during the day when its slow.”

Her husband, Kelvin Bichanga, said: “Kuna wale wanataka kusema vibaya but hawawezi kują mbele yako waseme vile ‘we do not like the idea of your wife hawking’ but itanifikia baadaye, at the end of the day sisi ndio tunabenefit, si hao, so tunawaacha watabonga na usiku watalala.”

Sylvia said, “I actually do not read comments online just because I want to stay focused on my mission and not get distracted, so that has been the challenge for me that when you get the spotlight there will always be people talking some are positive some are negative.”

“Of course there’s always the people that are a bit rude then there are people who are simply curious like ‘what, a white person selling food walking?’” 

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