Valentine’s Day this year was a memorable day for women serving timein Kenya. As love and roses filled the air, philanthropists, the private sector,government, non-profits, and well wishers came together to share the joy of generosity and partnership demonstrating that noone ever becomes poor by being kind.On the 14th of February 2022, the Lan-gata Women’s Prison received a most valuable gift a 12 million baking and clothing unit workshop fully stocked with machines including a seed capital start-up fund workshop that will serve at least 500 inmates inits facilities. The two wing workshop wasjointly funded by Chandaria Foundation,Mabati Rolling Mills Limited (MRM) andSafal Building Systems Limited (SBS) com-prises baking and clothing units is a training facility where imprisoned women will learn how to bake and sew so that theyleave prison with a skill that can assist themto earn an income.“The project will be of help to the women during reintegration into the society,who are equipped with new skill sets,” said Dr. Manu Chandaria.
Speaking during the launch of the facility, Commissioner General of Prisons Briga-dier (Rtd) John Kibaso said the units willsupplement the existing training facilitieswhich are inadequate for the women population in the prison. “The key objective ofthe project is to equip Lang’ata WomenPrison with skills that will enable them tobuild their entrepreneurial capacity andchoose alternatives to crime for incomegeneration upon completion of their sen-tence,” said Warioba. The workshop will enable women to gain skills while in prison,create products and sell them beyond the gates and guarantee they leave prison indignity with some start-up cash, a businesscertificate guaranteeing a dignified re-entry into society.The Clothing Unit will produce Face masks, School bags, Aprons, School sweaters by order inmate sweaters by order, andrecyclable sanitary pads by Pad Mad. The Bakery Unit on the other hand will producea variety of baked snacks such as Cakes,Mandazi, Chapati targeted to prisons withinthe Nairobi area before venturing into other markets. Inmates left with less than six months torelease have been given first priority ensuring that the workshop is able to immediately benefit those who need it most. The Project will be run as a business with income gained from sales plowed back into the project and paid out to inmates upontheir release. “Hence, on the grounds thatwomen are able to earn from their skills,the products will also be available for export” adds Madhvi Dalal, Founder of PadMad a partner in the project.“It gives me so much joy to see this work-shop come to life because I know how dif-ficult it is to get back on your feet after serv-ing a prison term, it is a state we refer to asinvisible bars because of all the challengesassociated with reintegration says, Teresa Njoroge, Founder and CEO at Clean StartKenya.“The Chandaria Workshop is a perfect example of how philanthropy can leverage private-public partnerships to restore dignity and livelihoods, and spur positive changein society,” said Dr. Patricia Murugami, Chairof the Board at Clean Start Kenya.Other partners who were instrumental in making the Chandaria Workshop a real-ity were:KESPSA Women, Pad Mad, (UNODC)United National Office of Drugs and Crimes,Rina Bakery, Valentines Cake House, Clean Start, Faraja Foundation, Thika Clothing MillsLtd, Uni-Industry East Africa Ltd, Mavazi El-evate Program Ltd, Solai Group among others.The Chandaria Workshop has now given impetus to another initiative geared towardensuring formerly imprisoned women, children, and girls get a clean start through the construction of the pioneer Clean Start Centre.
The Pioneer Clean Start Center first ofits kind in the region will serve as a halfway home facility accommodating a minimum of 20 women for a period of 3-6 monthsgiving just-released prisoners a place to callhome. It will provide safe housing, traumahealing space, business hubs, and a community center for the nearby environs. Thiswill reduce recidivism and improve the out-comes for women, children, and girls after release.The facility will include:
■ Safe house with a capacity of20 women
■ Kitchen and pantry
■ Training workshop
■ Business hub
■ Kitchen Garden
Following the opening of the Chandaria Workshop, on 28th March 2022, Clean Start Kenya invited partners to an immersion exercise where they were able to experience the first-hand value of the workshop andidentify possible areas of partnership.Some of the partnership areas identified included advocacy issues for ways to dignifythe lives of inmates, entrepreneurship training, and financial inclusion as strategies to minimize the challenges of reintegration.
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