29 July 2018
I’m so humbled and inspired by the women who’ve told me that Baraka Women’s Center changed their lives. A teacher who volunteers to help women learn to read in write. A woman who was abused and missing her front teeth last time I saw her looks fresh and vital (all new teeth), has a successful business selling fruits, and helps women in the slums get government allowances to send their kids to school – and is on the BWC Board. Women learning to manage money in group ventures. A lady who started three businesses after her training at BWC. An older woman who was in the Adult literacy
Program and wants badly for it to start again. Old allies still help as best they can. Never enough money for all that needs doing. We’ve drawn up a budget for the next 17 months – through 2019. Five major programs, four paid staff, a passel of trainers, a bigger office (SO needed!). In Kenya Shilling it looks daunting: 8.3 million. But works out to US$83,000. Such vast and positive effects for a relatively small amount of money. Seems it should be out there and moving here pronto. You can also contribute to BWC through WCI’s website.
BWC’s new Board clearly has committed itself to rebuilding the Center to its former glory – and beyond. They want to register BWC as an NGO to allow them to establish Centers all around Kenya. It’s a brilliant plan. However, it will have to wait until BWC itself is financial stable with new staff on board. Fortunately, many of the right individuals have presented themselves.
Walking in something I enjoy but maneuvering on busted-up concreted with ragged deep holes and the occasional protruding metal objects, in the midst of hundreds of harried people, enveloped in clouds of exhaust fumes, is not my idea of healthful exercise. On a previous trip, I mistook the energy for a kind of exuberance, but now I realize it’s a frantic response to an environment that is simply not worthy of human habitation.
Teresia escorted me to a couple of slums. She feels, and I agree, it’s necessary to understand where the members come from. The main thing that scares me about these raw poverty pits is that they continue to exist year after year without improvements. Lately, the government’s priorities appear to be displacing residents to build roads. The residents are fighting the move; at minimum, they want land to resettle.
On the street, I see solders toting AK47s, beggar children in filthy clothes, lurching, yowling drunks, people carrying heavy bundles on their backs or bicycles or battered hand-pulled carts. A new skyline with the tallest office building in Africa takes shape above them. Housing seems an afterthought.
Above: some of the beautiful fashion accessories handcrafted by BWC’s members. I have samples! You can contact me directly – Susan@WomensCentersIntl.org – about purchasing. BWC is building this business to support the livelihoods of many women.
Keep up to date on WCI’s work with Baraka Center and news Center sites HERE