Catherine Wanjohi is a 2011 Graduate of the Global Women’s Water Initiative Training Program. Catherine is the Executive Director of Life Bloom, an organization in Naivasha, Kenya that empowers ex-commercial sex workers with vocational skills and education to uplift them into a life of dignity through entrepreneurship. Not only is Life Bloom building a vocational school, she is also studying to get her PhD! Catherine recently sent this letter to GWWI about her recent appointment as a Board Member for the Water Company as a result of her participation in the GWWI Training Program.
I hope you are all doing well. I would love to share one stride that has happened in the last couple of weeks.
Some friends of our organization (Life Bloom) who knew about our work we had begun doing with women with our new WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) project called me a few weeks ago to tell me that there was an advertisement in the national newspapers, for positions of Board of Directors of the Water Company. The Water Company regulates and determines the direction water services implemented our district. My friends thought that I would be able to best represent the local poor woman, who takes contaminated water (which I can say that with authority since we have conducted numerous water tests) and spends half the day sourcing from the donkey vendors, suggested I apply. I am aware that most of Naivasha community has respect for me and Life Bloom for being able to penetrate the community of sex workers which almost everyone has kept at bay.
Clad with my testimonials (and the WASH training certificate), I did apply and was invited for a very competitive interview in April. Asked by the panel why I was interested in such a large volunteer position, I said that I now knew the kind of water our women used because I was able to test the water and am now passionate to make water not only more available, but expand ways of cleaning water at the household level using the Biosand Filter I learned at the GWWI Training. I even invited them to a water test at the office with my Portable Microbiology Lab!
Just last week, I got my letter of appointment to this position——–I am one among other 2 women in a board of 5 persons!
I wish to really thank you all at GWWI and do renew my commitment here and now…” to build healthy families through provision of healthy water”. I look forward to a time when the poor households of Naivasha and beyond will boast of great health. My inspiring challenge at this moment: To influence the change of policies that have seen these households without water for all these decades. And isn’t it just a great honor to do that from the big board meetings…and use Life Bloom and other community based organizations to implement these policies?
Blessings for all you have been to me and the African woman/household.