Teresa Njoroge speaks at TedWomen 2017, New Orleans, USA
Teresa Njoroge speaks at The Institute for Criminal Policy Research, Birkbeck, University of London for the launch of their study into Female Imprisonment Worldwide.
The event launches the fourth edition of the World Female Imprisonment List, a comprehensive set of data on the numbers of women and girls imprisoned globally, by country and region, showing trends since 2000.
Clean Start will join experts and representatives from NGOs engaged in ICPR’s research and policy project, Understanding and reducing the use of imprisonment. The project examines patterns of imprisonment in ten contrasting jurisdictions across five continents: Kenya, South Africa, Brazil, the USA, India, Thailand, England & Wales, Hungary, the Netherlands and Australia.
Clean Start’s Cyprine Omollo attends the African Leadership Training Institute for Community Transformation (ALICT), in Cape Town South Africa
In July 2017, I attended three months of training at the African Leadership Training Institute for Community Transformation (ALICT) in Cape Town, South Africa. The training had 26 students from 26 countries around the world. Some of the topics covered in this training were: Servant Leadership, Transformation in the various sectors the Community, Education, Business, Coaching, Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Studies, Change Management, Organizational Development, Project Cycle Development, Fund Raising, Money Power and Sex, Marriage, Fatherhood and Facilitation.
This training has had a great impact my life, and has been a journey of discovery and learning, there were great moments on mountain tops and moments in the valley of deep despair. I am more of old self, really feel inspired to serve the many women and men who are released from prison each and every day and are transitioning back into the society. It’s all about service to humanity to be able just to restore dignity and shattered dreams, put a smile on the faces of these men and women who have such a great potential and can be such an inspiration the society.
This training takes you through a process that helps you identify and overcome the obstacles that prevent you from living life in all its fullness.
It was such a great learning opportunity.
Written by Cyprine Omollo, Clean Start Team Member & Overcomer
NTV’s Kobi Kihara interviews Teresa Njoroge on “Better Living”
“Finding a purpose in life by giving ex-convicts a second chance in life.”
Teresa was interviewed by household name and TV presenter, Kobi Kihara about her life in prison and her subsequent work at Clean Start.
Clean Start coaches deliver the Spear Course at Kamae Girls Borstal Institution, Nairobi
We were excited to be able to deliver the Spear Course to 21 young women in Kamae Girls this month. Here some of the girls share their reflections from the course. The girls have given permission for their stories to be shared. Their names have been changed to protect their identities.
“My name is Waithera, 16yrs years old, a young lady. I count myself as an adult despite my young age. This is due to the knowledge I have. This is my story. I was a drug addict, my drug life was due to the environment I was brought up in, and I was surrounded by drug peddlers and drug abusers. I saw it as normal, so I dived into drugs and later was drawn completely into drugs.
It was during one lazy evening when I was caught red handed in the act. I was frog-marched to the police station by the cops where I started making threats and abusing the cops. After a month in a Children’s Rehabilitation Centre in Machakos, I was sent to Kame Girls Borstal Institution for 3 years training. I felt hopeless and useless and I thought that my life was had come to a sudden halt.
Through counseling sessions, I came to accept myself and I was ready to change although I was not able to overcome the spirit of revenge. Later on, after an 8-month stay in Kamae, the Spear Program was introduced by Clean Start and I registered myself as a trainee. With Spear Coaching I learnt about having a change in mindset, having a power mentality not a victim mentality and having a long-term mindset. I also learnt that my future should not be determined by my past and I should accept my current situation and let my past drop like a loose garment.
I learnt that different people have different perceptions and personalities, so you should not take other people’s perceptions in the wrong way and how they view things is not the same way you do. I am now in school and very much focused. I am a victor, I have power mentality! Thanks to Kamae Girls Welfare and the Superintendent in Charge, and to all the Spear Coaches from Clean Start.”
“I am Halima, a fifth born in a family of six; I am 17 years old, I am in form two. This is part of my story in Kamae and what Clean Start has done in my life through the Spear Program. My dad died when I was still young and later on my mum passed in 2015. I’ve always felt bad that I grew up without my father and that has really affected me. Living in an environment that influenced me negatively, I got into drugs and crime. I started using drugs at the tender age of 13, and by the time I got to 15 I had already almost used every drug available. When my mum passed away, I became bitter and angry with the world, I felt like I was thrown into a dystopia and the world was strange and a lonely place. In 2016, I ran away from home and started living with friends thinking it was better. I got deeper into drugs and to sustain my drug life I got involved in robbery and walking with gangs. I got arrested and was remanded in Langata Women Remand Prison. This was really traumatic! I later accepted that I had made a mistake and was brought to Kamae Bostal Institution for a period of 3 years.
My stay in Kamae has been tough. I have attended several counseling sessions that have really helped me to accept my situation but I really didn’t come to know who Jamila is.
In June, a Program was introduced to us from Clean Start called the Spear Programme. Through Spear I have learnt to be strong and have self-belief, to be confident and avoid negativity. I have learnt that different people have different perceptions, to have power mentality and to be responsible; I have also learnt the causes of conflicts and ways of managing conflicts.
The main thing that makes me continue is that I learnt to be resilient in whatever situation. I now know the five life readiness indicators and am ready to impact society with a positive influence. To conclude I really appreciate our Welfare Officer and the Spear Coaches from Clean Start for such an awesome program, I am also very happy to be the current Miss Kamae Borstal Institution.”
“My name is Mwende, I am in class 7, I am from Machakos County and now I am in Kamae Girls Borstal Institution for 3 years. I came here because I refused to go to school. The first three months I went through several counseling sessions that made me accept that I was going to be in Kamae for 3 years. I really appreciate the Welfare Officer and the Officer In Charge for allowing the counselors and other programs like the Spear Program, I truly appreciate the Coaches.
The Spear Program left me with a lot of knowledge, the program was introduced in Kamae in the month of June 2017, and I was among the trainees, I remember in the first week, I learnt about the Life Readiness Indicators, which were, communication, attitude, appearance, teamwork and responsibility which I was very poor on.
I also learnt of a tool that can be used to balance my life. I learnt how to solve conflicts and also that people have different perceptive and personalities. I really appreciate the Coaches and the Officer in Charge. I have improved my confidence and am the current Miss Kamae Second runner up.”
Life after prison
Prisoner No 613/11 That is the name I had when I was in prison. Everything was done for you, we used to say we were “visitors of the state”.
Once out of prison life is not easy, you find life moved on and nothing is the same even your family feels different. You are stigmatized and as a mother, you feel different as well. Taking back your role as a wife and mother is a real shocker. The years you were away the children grow older and your husband has had his space and now you are back!
You do not know where to start because there is no money. You have nowhere to go and now you have to think of the family other than yourself.
I did not let this bring me down, so I started a business of baking cakes, making mandazis and selling them until I was able to open a small eatery near Catholic University of Eastern Africa called “FATSO’S SWAHILI RESTAURANT” where I do Swahili dishes.
The period I was in prison was tough, however if it wasn’t for God’s grace, the love and support I got from my family I believe it would have been worse.
By Fatia, Overcomer
Children accompanying their mothers in prison
Although I love visiting prisons to encourage the women I meet there, I have to say the visits that really stir my heart are the ones where I am able to see the young children housed in our prisons. There are over 300 children under the age of 5 living with the daily challenge of being in prison with their mothers.
These many children have accompanied their mothers as they serve their sentences, short or long. Children can join their mothers when there is no one else to take care of the children while others are born in prison. Sadly, in many of the 22 women’s prisons in Kenya, there is no allocation in the prison budget to provide for these children’s needs. Children and their mothers depend on well-wishers to provide practically for clothes and basics such as soap, diapers, milk and fresh fruits. There are little or no educational materials available for these children and very often no opportunity for formal teaching. It is always exciting and heart-warming to be able to bring these desperately needed items to the children and their mothers. But, every visit I make strengthens my resolve to work harder to ensure these children have their practical and educational needs met. Please join me in supporting these children. Here are the things they are most in need of.
Written by Mumbi Muguongo, Clean Start
Spear Coaching for Leadership Training, Nairobi
Clean Start launched its first Spear Coaching for Leadership Program in Nairobi attended by Clean Start team members, delegates from the Kenyan Prison Services HQ, Welfare Officers, independent prison stakeholders and a good number of former-inmates. The aim of the course is to train coaches to deliver the Spear Course in prisons across Kenya equipping men and women with valuable life and employment skills as they transition back into society.
At the end of the training course, one welfare officer who has served in the Kenyan Prison Service for 28 years and who works in a large youth correctional facility said, “I want Spear to be my legacy in prison.” Very humbling indeed. (He is pictured in a bright shirt holding his certificate.)
Other delegates wrote:
“My life will certainly never be the same again! Many thanks to the coaches and the entire Spear organisation.”
“The Spear Course was a Godsend and all I look forward to is applying it daily. I have already coached a 19-year-old boy who had dropped off a good school in Form 2 and who after coaching has agreed to go back to school and live more productively.”
Read Overcomer Tez’s account of the week’s training.
When Clean Start Kenya partnered with Resurgo from the UK to bring the Spear Course to Kenya, I was among the first few chosen to go through the seven days of training. At first, I was skeptical about all of it since I assumed it was a ‘normal’ time-consuming training. I was wrong.
Long before Clean Start and Spear, I was quite bitter and extremely negative. Change seemed to be too much to embrace so I wanted nothing to do with it. I had chosen to remain sullen and sour and it also left me stagnant for years. My past barricaded me from living in my present or being hopeful about my future.
The odd thing is I didn’t notice I was stuck until lesson one of the training. The next seven days took revisiting my past in a way I never had. I was overwhelmed from time to time during classes and at one point I even broke down.
Attending to forgotten wounds, as I learnt, is quite time-consuming and overwhelming. I challenged myself to hold on and meet the woman I’d be without such baggage. Absorbing each lesson with great interest as my path to healing widened.
After seven days, the results left me yearning for more. I was more firm and decisive about letting go. I was positive and change was all I wanted. I felt very proud of the woman I had become. That was my first time to harbor such beautiful feelings for myself.
Through the Spear course I unlocked my tenacity. I reawakened my old dreams and embraced positivity. It was during those seven days that my potential became apparent to my former self.
In March 2017, Teresa attended the inaugural Acumen Fellows Global Gathering, where fellows from the past decade were brought together under one roof. For one week, over 300 Fellows from India, Pakistan, East Africa and the rest of the world gathered with Acumen Staff and Partners and members of organisations such as GE, Ford Foundation, MasterCard Labs for Financial Inclusion, Safaricom, KCB Bank, TED and Omidyar Network in Naivasha, Kenya. Teresa was given the opportunity to share Clean Start’s story and work with the audience.
The Privilege of a Prison Visit
Prison visits are both wonderful and terrible moments in our lives at Clean Start. Wonderful because we get to be together, hold each other (however briefly) and talk to each other while we looked into each other’s eyes. Terrible for so many other reasons – the location, the atmosphere, and the reminder of the reality that prison was a part of our family’s story.
The average Kenyan female prisoner is young (aged under 40), has little or average education, is a rural urban migrant and is likely to be an unemployed single parent. Visit any women’s prison, and you will be met by the hollowed out, pained expressions on the inmates’ faces. But the offences that women are imprisoned for are very different from that of men, a recent audit of Kenya’s criminal justice system shows, and give us a hint of how one piece of legislation can have a huge impact. If we include similar offences like loitering, causing a disturbance, being a nuisance, and offensive language or conduct, it suggests that nearly a quarter, 25 per cent of all people in police custody are there for what is essentially anti-social behavior.
- There are about 20 000 convicted women prisoners in Kenya
- More than 70 per cent of women imprisoned in Kenya violated the Liquor Act alone
- Most inmates complained of a feeling of bitterness, sadness and being miserable
In addition, ‘state offences’ account for another 10 per cent of arrests. These are crimes against which the state is the ‘aggrieved’, and are related to offences like conducting a business without a license (i.e. hawking and the like), illegal gambling, illegal grazing and hunting, harvesting sand without a license, and so on. Prisons are congested with men and women who have a huge price to pay for petty, survival crimes. Visiting prisoners is a huge encouragement to them and inspires us at Clean Start to work towards solutions that make life in prison and after prison easier to bear.
Written by Irene Ouko, Clean Start
Clean Start to partner with Pete Ouko and Crime Si Poa
Is there anyone who doesn’t want to see a crime-free society? I don’t think so. I have seen first-hand how crime can ruin the lives of young men, their relationships, their dreams and their futures. I founded the Youth Safety Awareness Initiative, better known as Crime Si Poa (Crime’s not cool) in 2007 while I was on death row in Kamiti Maximum Security Prison. I wanted to stem the flow of young men in our prisons in Kenya.
At Crime Si Poa we do this by mobilizing citizen responsibility and participation in making Kenya safer. We focus on discouraging youth, vulnerable to crime, from engaging in criminal activities and positively engaging youths who have denounced bad behavior. We work across the country to reduce crime, anti-social behavior and fear of crime through education, advocacy and training. We champion penal reform through social enterprise as we know this reduces recidivism rates.
With unemployment rates in Kenya as high as 40%, and higher still for young men and women, crime can seem like the only option. An option that has life-long consequences. Because of the change we know hope can make for young people, we are excited to partner with Clean Start to give men, women and youth, both girls and boys, encouragement to be good citizens with hope for the future. We want to create the means for second chances both for those at risk of, or those who have already experienced the criminal justice system. We know that we all need second chances and we all need hope for a crime-free Nation of Kenya.
Written by Pete Ouko, Founder of Crime Si Poa
Find out more about Crime Si Poa here (http://www.crimesipoa.org)and join us to change things for the good of all our citizens.
Tez’s Memories of Christmas in Prison
Christmas is the most observed season in Kenya. Colour and warmth hover on the last days of the year as families and friends are merry. African barbecues and drinks are in plenty while churches flood with grateful souls. In general, Christmas is a great holiday for the public at large.
Sharing the same calendar are prisoners locked behind bars. Away from their loved ones. Children, husbands, wives, siblings, parents and even friends. No colour aside from stone grey walls, wardens’ green and their own black and white smocks. Nothing about being in prison around Christmas is warm.
People huddle in groups reminiscing about home and their loved ones. They pass time talking about how they used to spend their Christmas. Others dream of how they will spend theirs if freedom comes first before death. Some lick their bleeding wounds of being away from their loved ones at such a season, in silence.
Women who bring their children to prison with them wish for better food, clothes and toys for their kids. Those who left children at home, worrying if they ate. Such a warm season brings mixed feelings for inmates. I write this having been in Langata Women’s Prison myself, my thoughts are with all those, men, women and children in prison at Christmas time.
Written by Tez, Writer and Overcomer
Clean Start hosts Rev Paul Cowley MBE, Founder of Caring for Ex-Offenders (CFEO) UK
captions: Paul Cowley visits Langata Women Maximum Security Prison and Kamiti Men Maximum Security Prison and shares his impactful and inspiring life story with men and women inmates.
Paul was born on the rough streets of Manchester, England. Both his parents were alcoholics and his home life was filled with verbal and sometimes physical abuse. At the age of 15, after an altercation with his father, he left home to live on the streets. He joined a gang, was expelled from school and moved into a life of crime which led to a short prison sentence in Risley prison.
His incarceration convinced him that a life of crime was not for him and, after seeing several recruiting posters for the Army, he enlisted. Throwing himself into his Army career over the next 17 years, he did several tours in Northern Ireland and served in the 1982 Falklands War.
In 1994, after being an Atheist for almost 38 years of his life, he completed an Alpha course himself and attended a prison visit. Paul became passionate about caring for people both inside prison and on their subsequent release. In 1996, he pioneered the Alpha course within the UK prison system as an employee of Holy Trinity Brompton.
In 2002, after completing a degree in theology, he was ordained into the Church of England and in 2005 he founded the charity ‘Caring for Ex-Offenders’ (CFEO), which has to date helped over 1700 men and women reintegrate back into society. CFEO is one important answer to the problem of encouraging local Churches to support ex-offenders on release from prison, helping to equip them to reintegrate back into society.
After 20 years’ experience of working with socially excluded and vulnerable adults – both inside and outside prison – Paul was awarded the MBE in 2015 from Her Majesty the Queen for ‘Services to Ex-Offenders’. He has just been appointed Bishops’ Advisor for Prisons and Penal affairs, and is now further developing his work in London.
Clean Start is honoured to have Rev Paul Cowley on its Council of Reference.
Kenya Prisons Leadership Summit, Brackenhurst, Nairobi
The three-day Kenya Prisons Leadership Summit, hosted by Clean Start and Shug Bury and generously sponsored by Hallelujah International Ministries, brought together nearly 200 Prison Chaplains and Welfare Officers from Prisons all over Kenya, as well as pastors and other prison stakeholders.
The theme for the Summit, “Finish the Call’, was designed to empower, equip and encourage prison leaders as well as to train them in how to effectively manage day today activities when they return to their stations.
Photo of Langata Ladies singing with Teresa and Teresa with Madame Khaemba
The climax of the summit was a colorful Gala Dinner with delicious food and entertainment laid on for the Chaplains and Welfare Officers. Many lives were impacted and changed as a result of the Summit. Photo of gala dinner
On the third day of the Summit we had a successful Overcomers meeting bringing together about 30 former inmates for a day of encouragement and learning
Clean Start hosts Global Leaders’ Quest visit to Langata Women Maximum Prison, Nairobi
It was a privilege for Clean Start to host Global Leaders’ Quest delegates at Langata Women Maximum Prison with the kind permission of Madam Olivia the Officer in Charge. Inspiring leaders from all over the world, explored leadership from a perspective of compassion and empathy. It was an honor to have the ladies at Langata Prison, tell their stories and have such heartfelt connections with the guests.
One delegate wrote, “The experience of sharing a moment with some of the ladies at Langata Prison and Clean Start is one I will never forget. It reminded me to the uncertainty of life. Meeting Theresa and the many women with their brave and courageous spirit really made me feel connected to a part of myself I hadn’t felt in a long time. Perhaps the vulnerability of being a woman.”
BBC GLOBAL BUSINESS – PRISON TO PROFIT
To mark the BBC World Service 100 Women season, Caroline Bayley speaks to six former women prisoners, across three continents. They were convicted under different circumstances and of different crimes – but they are united in their passion for business enterprise and self-employment which has allowed them to turn their lives around on the outside. Teresa Njoroge of Clean Start is one of those featured.