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.
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.
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.
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 - $774All tiles & labor - $1153Glass panes for windows and doors - $524sub-total - $2451Less recent $450 donationTOTAL - $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.
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 2014 - As work at the construction site proceeds, efforts are moving toward:
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.
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