Build A School for 2000 former Kenyan Sex Workers

 
$13,796
$84,205
Raised
Remaining
Sharing time
Sharing time
The Life Bloom's Women One Stop Center (WOSC) in Naivasha was full of life and laughter on Tuesday, May 26th. Twenty-two Senior Mentors, three women representing Life Bloom's local collaborators, and a trainer from San Francisco gathered to learn skills on how to use art for therapy.
The mentors have a background in counseling skills, and the training served as a basis to broaden their skills and leart to utilize more conventional methods and build on the traditional methods. Takako, an Art Therapist  from San Francisco facilitated the training.
The training took place in one of the completed classrooms at the Women One Stop Center, which was commissioned in September 2014.

Share photos - - Testimony after testimony was shared. Among the mentors, the painful past now serves as tools to teach others. The past lives of the majority of participants is punctuated by experiences of abuse, violence, rejection and discrimination. Many of the women were surprised at how they were able to interpret the drawings they made. They made a commitment to meet every two months to share the progress of their use of the skills, learn more, and also to learn how to teach their children to use this skill. Many of the participants disclosed that most of their children were not good at expressing themselves, especially when they had challenges in life. This skill could be helpful if nurtured.

Work Station Photo - Wanjiru (in pink top) explains to some participants how the building blocks are used to build houses and water harvesting tanks and save as much as 40% of construction expenses. The blocks (or bricks, as they are commonly known here) are made by a group of women at Life Bloom and are also sold to help cover expenses for LBSI. Art therapy facilitator, Takako, at right. 
Tea time - Any surface is a place to sit and enjoy a cup of tea during the health break. LBSI is still raising funds for the second story of the Women One Stop Center

Group photo - Life Bloom is known in Naivasha as a place where people (women) laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time, without feeling embarrassed.
LBSI Staff - 
Standing right, Trizer Musya: accounts officer and administration. Trizer is also in charge of the women in jail project.
Sitting right, Wanjiru Ngigi: Programs Coordinator incharge of Enterpreneurship and vocational skills training and anti-gender based violence interventions.
Sitting left, Phylis Nduta: in charge of all home based interventions for our clients and coordinates interventions for people experiencing multiple stigma situations (an individual woman sometimes is a survivor of rape, is HIV positive, a broken marriage, cancer survivor, has no job and has a background in sex work).
Standing left, Catherine Wanjohi: Life Bloom's CEO and at operations level is in charge of Leadership skills training (Mentoring), supporting the multiple stigma situations, liaison, and fundraising.
Missing in the pic is Sakina Said, in charge of rescue operations, interventions for children and coordinating interventions for HIV and other related conditions. 
This team continues to be dedicated to support women and girls back to finding their dignity. Your help and support continues to be vital to the work that LBSI does. 
Current cost estimates for a security system to allow for the second floor to be built: 
Fence and gate   $7471
Electricity (power) connection $2299
Piped water connection $1724 
2 rescue cottages and furnishing $9186
Total: $20680
Thank you in advance for any support you may be able to provide. 
Art Therapy Share
Art Therapy Share
Work Station
Work Station
Tea time
Tea time
Group photo in front of LBSI
Group photo in front of LBSI
LBSI staff (partial group)
LBSI staff (partial group)
Post exam
Post exam

Not only does LBSI retrain (mainly) women who are in sex work into other trades, they also work with women to return to school and work toward completing their education. In December, two women receiving LBSI services sat for their exams. 

Naomi W - Life Bloom rescued Naomi from a very abusive marriage in 2012 that she entered at the age of 17. When she was seven, her mother died and she was left orphaned. She dropped out of school at that time when she was at class 3. She was a mother by the age of 14. Through LBSI, Naomi received counselling, leadership training, and mentoring. Many people have supported her course to support her two children and to receive an education. Naomi says, "I thank God for this far he has brought me, and for giving me wonderful people who have stood with me on hard and tough times in my life: for putting a smile on my face, happiness on my children's life, for giving me a chance to be part of their lives. .....With 260 marks, I hope to pursue high school education....thank you thank you and thank you."
Esther -  Esther is a child of a single mother, living within Naivasha. When she realized that she could not go on with her high school education - she was then at Form 2 - she made a rather dangerous choice of sourcing for school fees. She stole from a neighbour's house items that she sold to raise the fee needed. She landed in prison. But she took her dream with her to prison, and shared it with the prison officer who immediately begun to look for help. Esther sat her KCPE and scored an A- grade of 379 marks. Her story of success was aired by Kenyan national television. 
Since sitting for the exam, Esther has been allowed to complete her jail term out of prison. Esther looks forward to joining high school. Esther is the first candidate to sit for national examinations from Naivasha women prison. The officer in charge shared with Catherine (LBSI Founder) that many more of the prisoners now want to register for national exams.
This is real: everything is possible! Any one's dreams are valid, no matter who or where we are. 
Join us in our activities in 2015. We appreciate your continued interest in LBSI and support in completing the LBSI building of the One Stop Center. 
 

Links:

First Lady with the brick she made
First Lady with the brick she made

There is still more building and work to be done, but The Women One Stop Center was officially commissioned on Life Bloom Services International's 10th anniversary! LBSI still needs to install the electricity to have the center fully operable and to put up a perimeter wall and gate for security purposes. 

There could not have been a more fulfilling way to celebrate Life Bloom's 10th birthday, while marking the International Charity Day on the 5th Sept 2014. From Kenya, Uganda, Australia, and the United States, 87 women and 5 men participated in the 1st ever Grass Root Women Step Up Conference. For the first time at Life Bloom's activities, flower farms were represented by Finlays Horticulture LTD. A total of 17 groups participated at the conference. The big moment was the commissioning of 28 Mentors, and the Women One Stop Center, all officiated by the Nakuru County First Lady, Mdm Lucia Kinuthia.

On behalf of Life Bloom-Kenya, Catherine wishes to thank all who continue to support the program through donations, skills sharing, physical presence, cheering us on - especially when we have difficulty - prayers, and more. The first phase (though with a little bit of work to be done to be completed fully), could not have become a reality without all of your support. As we celebrate the women and the "miles" they have made, we celebrate each person.

Center is commissioned!
Center is commissioned!
Officer Mwenda plants tree on behalf of prison pop
Officer Mwenda plants tree on behalf of prison pop
First session in the new center!
First session in the new center!
Phiona, one of 28 Mentors commissioned by 1st Lady
Phiona, one of 28 Mentors commissioned by 1st Lady

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Walls await paint and windows await glass panes
Walls await paint and windows await glass panes

The LBSI Training Center will open its doors on September 5th, its 10th Anniversary. We are so very close to completion and all of your assistance is getting us there on time. 

The remaining items to complete the 1st Floor (and then the second floor will begin underway shortly after) are as follows:

All paint & labor - $774
All tiles & labor - $1153
Glass panes for windows and doors - $524
sub-total - $2451
Less recent $450 donation
TOTAL - $2001

In this post you'll see the picture of a wall that is ready for prep to paint and, in the same photo, the windows awaiting glass panes. We are SO close and can accomplish the goal of having the Training Center ready for use, and its first scheduled training, on its 10th Anniversary. 

As we continue our preparations for launch of the Women One Stop Center on Sept 5th, we are also completing the construction of a separate small building for making the bricks (brick making shop). It is made of bricks manually made in the past several months by LBSI women. This brick shop will provide workers relief from working unprotected in the hot sun and strong winds. The equipment is soon to be installed in the shop and will be used to train other women in the brick making process.

How bricks are made: A mixture of soil and small measures of cement is done using very little water. The mixture is fed into the machine and the handle is brought down creating pressure on the mixture. The brick is then removed from the machine and put to dry. Bricks are put to dry and acquire firmness for 5-7 days before they are used for construction.

Why have a brick making shop? By taking on this task, LBSI will be able to make the bricks for the Training Center with the potential to make construction about 40% cheaper. We hope to expand this project after the launch of the center in September. There is already interest in the community to purchase these bricks from LBSI, which will enable us to fund our project and services after the construction of the building is complete.

We are so close to a useable center and then will move toward fund-raising and completing the second floor.

Our deepest appreciation to all who have made this possible. 

Brick making
Brick making
Worker and bricks, sieve in background
Worker and bricks, sieve in background

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LBSI Women working to level the classroom area
LBSI Women working to level the classroom area

Beginning in February 2014, four women and six men have been working on site in Naivasha to build the first floor of the Training Center. These workers include some of the women who are part of the Life Bloom network. This continues the tradition LBSI set forth of employing the women who they are retraining from sex work, as written about in "Steps Toward Foundation Building Underway" on January 30, 2012. We are now about two years later and only a few weeks away from the first floor of the Training Center being occupied and ready for use, which includes two classrooms and some washrooms. 

Let's catch you up on what's happened the last several months!

February 2014 - Laying the foundation

March 2014 - Leveling of the classroom floor in preparation of the slab pouring; 

The Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians-St Paul's University Kenya Chapter (the CIRCLE) and a representative of the World Council of Churches (WCC) lay stone and bless the project. What's symbolic about this? Churches in Kenya have been known to be the first to shun "sex work" (read: prostitution) and all that goes with it. Talk to any sex worker about the cause of stigma and the answer will most probably be the church.  A number of churches are finally breaking this barrier and supporting processes that are supportive of the people who our societies shun. Bravo to the CIRCLE and WCC for leading the way and Bravo the Presbyterian Church of Tacoma-Washington State (USA) for the great donation. (Click here to access an article using an interview with Catherine Wanjohi (LBSI Founder) by the World Council of Churches) 

25th - Halfway completed with the first floor walls

April 2014 - 12th, Building at 47% of the physical construction work (five weeks ahead of schedule!), at a total cost of approximately $14,895. (Kenya shillings 1,266,075)

21st - This first phase covers 1944 square feet or 175 sq meters. Building is now at the 1st floor slab level. There has been heavy downpour and flooding in some areas of Naivasha and it's not always prudent to have the construction going on when the manpower will be paid full day's work, yet they mostly will work for half day in April due to the downpour.

May 2014As work at the construction site proceeds, efforts are moving toward:

  • Perimeter Wall
  • Wiring for power (electricity) connection
  • Water pipes connection
After deliberations with the staff and board members on the issue of the perimeter wall, we resolved to have the women who have been trained on interlocking brick/block making to build blocks for the perimeter wall. Life Bloom has one manual curved block maker, which has been used by the women to build blocks for rain harvesting tanks construction and VIP toilets. However, we need to have the rectangular block maker. If we were to purchase one ($1470), and make the blocks, we would be bringing the cost for these blocks down by at least 25 percent. We will then use the machine to make blocks for sale; we already have two ready potential customers. At the same time, the women building the blocks will be making an earning.
Meanwhile, the construction of the slab for the two classrooms is on-going. By the time we are done with it in the next three weeks, we will be moving to the windows/doors, wiring for power, piping for water, and the finishes on the walls and floors.

LBSI aims to have the first floor ready for use this September or before. We can still use your support to keep construction moving along. We are months away from Kenya's first training center for retraining female sex workers into entrepreneur enterprises so they can support themselves in a way that allows them to keep their heads held high. It's a model that continues to work and we look forward to training more women than ever before.

As always, we appreciate your support in all its ways, whether that be monetary, in person, in word, in voice, in thought... we are all connected and your positivity is felt and keeps us going strong. 

CIRCLE and WCC laying stone
CIRCLE and WCC laying stone
CIRCLE and WCC laying stone (with LBSI Founder)
CIRCLE and WCC laying stone (with LBSI Founder)
Walls going up!
Walls going up!
Brick by Brick
Brick by Brick
(Looking back) Prepping the foundation
(Looking back) Prepping the foundation

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Project Leader

CATHERINE WANJOHI

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Naivasha, Kenya

Where is this project located?

Map of Build A School for 2000 former Kenyan Sex Workers