Organisation opens safehouse for women released from prison

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Organisation opens safehouse for women released from prison
Organisation opens safehouse for women released from prison

Africa-Press – Kenya. One of the toughest challenges incarcerated women face when they get out of prison is integrating back into society.

With the stigmatization they face, at times, these women have nowhere to go and end up feeling unwanted.

Worse, they come out with hardly any money and their chances of getting employment are close to none.

Basically, the circumstances these women are in could easily make them revert to criminal activities for survival.

This is why one woman, Teresa Njoroge, came up with an initiative to support these women as they attempt to pick up from where they left off.

The Clean Start initiative was started in 2015 as a small group of formerly incarcerated women who used to meet at Uhuru Park as friends.

“Our aim is to bridge the gap between prison and the community by ensuring the women and children leaving prison are successfully integrated back into society,” Teresa said.

The Clean Start CEO, herself being a former prisoner, says she understands first-hand the challenges these women face.

“It isn’t just their liberty that is taken away, but also their dignity, considering the unbearable conditions in prisons,” she says.

Teresa says Clean Start is about changing the narratives of these women. The initiative receives funds from donors and well-wishers.

Initially, most of their funding came from the United Kingdom and other countries abroad, but now, Kenyan cooperatives are stepping up to support the initiative.

On Friday, the initiative launched a safe house in Kileleshwa where they will house women who come out of prison but have nowhere to go.

The Fairmont Hotels management was at the launch to support the initiative. Director of Talent and Culture, Mbithe Wambua, said the Fairmont Hotels hopes to continue supporting the initiative.

“We are here to support their safe house initiative. We wanted to just set up their house for them. What informed us to do this is the fact that November 25 is International Day of Elimination of violence against women, “Mbithe said.

Currently, the organization has 12 full-time employees who were former prisoners. It also gets volunteers who help with the activities the initiative conducts.

Since its advent, the initiative has reached out to more than 4,000 women and has managed to help 200 women support themselves economically.

Clean Start targets to empower up to a million women and expand to other African countries.

The organization has a program called Ufunuo where the women are taught skills such as carpentry, woodwork and tiling to help them earn a living.

Through Ufunuo, the women are exposed to counselling sessions to help them heal, forgive and accept themselves and their new life.

Teresa says she hopes society will learn to accept these women and not treat them as lesser humans because of past mistakes.

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