Wednesday, August 29, 2012

GWWI Report From the Field: Women Prisoners Provide Their Own Clean Water


The Global Women’s Water Initiative Team has been traveling through East Africa to visit the women teams that were trained in our 2011-2012 year long training program. Meet the people whose lives they are changing.

GWWI Team - Gemma Bulos, Director; Rose Wamalwa, Kenya/Tanzania Field Coordinator; Comfort Mukasa, Uganda Field Coordinator

Lydia, Naivasha Women's Prison Warden

Lydia, the senior warden of Naivasha Women’s Medium Security Prison in Kenya believes that prisons should be a place for rehabilitation and transformation. In her experience, she has seen that the majority of the women who have been sentenced to time spent in prison are often convicted of crimes such as prostitution and/or abandoning their children. Despite the reasons for women feeling forced to resort to prostitution to provide for their children and having to abandon them to do so, it is still a crime and women can spend up to 3 years in prison for such offenses

Lydia believes this is an opportunity for women to transform their lives and create a new beginning. She has introduced different vocational opportunities such as craft making, sewing and embroidery for the inmates to consider doing as an alternative when they are released. When she learned about the Biosand Filter from one of GWWI Graduates Susan Njeri and Catherine Wanjohi of Life Bloom International, she thought it would be a perfect technology for the inmates to learn while being able to provide clean water for the prison.
Life Bloom, prison guards and inmates and GWWI Team with the biosand filter

Life Bloom International uplifts the lives of abused women with an emphasis on ex-commercial sex workers and provides them with opportunities for leadership and alternative livelihoods for a brighter future.
Inmates perform poetry 
Inmates and GWWI team dance!



Susan, an ex-commercial sex worker herself, went through the Life Bloom program, transformed her life and found herself alongside Director, Catherine Wanjohi as invited participants in the GWWI Women and Water Training Program. They brought the BSF back to Naivasha and were invited by Lydia to train the inmates in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) education and to construct the BSF. The inmates were able to build two filters that are now providing all the water for the female inmates, the guards and the four children living in the prison (children under four live with their inmate mothers). 

Prior to having the Biosand Filter, there were very regular outbreaks of diarrhea and vomiting, with the worst of the outbreaks happening just before the training.  They have had the filter for nearly 9 months and there has not been one episode of diarrhea since then. The male prisoners are now asking that the BSF be installed in their prison.

Thanks to the incredible inspiration of Lydia and the expertise and commitment of Life Bloom, the women prisoners now have a future full of hope!

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