It is a brutal fact that poverty often affects women and girls in particularly violent and abusive ways. As we pray with Pope Francis during February, we also pray for the empowerment of women and girls, and celebrate those missionaries who work hard to restore and honour the dignity of women who have experienced abuse.
In parts of Kenya, many young girls living in extreme poverty are easily trapped into prostitution and sexual exploitation in their efforts to earn a meal or a meagre living. Vulnerable and destitute, many are orphans or have experienced abusive relationships at home.
Fortunately there is a safe place for these young women to go. Missio supports the Cardinal Maurice Otunga Girls Empowerment Centre in Nairobi, which cares for young women aged between 14 and 20. Here, they can escape lives of poverty and abuse – they have a chance to learn, grow and recover from often traumatic pasts.
‘An experience of peace and healing love’
The Centre is a vocational training centre that was started in 2004 by the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi, under the umbrella of the Archdiocese of Nairobi.
The Sisters are inspired by the message of the Gospel of Mark about caring for children:
‘Then Jesus took the children in his arms and placed his hands on each of them and blessed them’ (Mk 10:16).
They seek to encourage the vulnerable girls, and to give them an experience of peace and healing.
Girls learn vocational training skills, as well as receive psycho-social counselling and spiritual development. Many of them have never been to school, but at the Centre they learn English, reading and writing.
The Assumption Sisters of Nairobi also help them to regain their self-worth and self-respect by caring for them and teaching them skills such as housekeeping, computing, nutrition and sewing.
To help the Sisters continue to bring God’s love to more at-risk girls, please consider a donation to Missio today. Donate here>>
An entirely different tomorrow
With help from the Centre, young women can look forward to an entirely different future. With proper vocational training, they have much better prospects of earning a living using their newly acquired skills. Some go on to work in tourism, hospitality and catering; others work as seamstresses in factories or run their own businesses.
And they are not unsupported. The Sisters continue to look out for the girls for two years after they have left the Centre, to ensure they are able to get on their feet and stay there. The Sisters also place emphasis on rebuilding family and guardian relationships where they can, so that the girls have support and love beyond the Centre.
With education, love and prayer, the Sisters are helping young women realise their dignity and their potential. And they hope that in turn, these girls will be part of building a better world for the girls of tomorrow.
In February, Pope Francis asks us to pray especially for women who are victims of abuse. Find the Pope’s Prayer Intention and our focus for February here>>