Menlo Park and Kenyan women join forces to help women blooom

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on March 16, 2011

Catherine Wanjohi of Life Blooms in Menlo Park

Change can happen, one women at a time. Even women who have hit bottom, those who abuse alcohol and drugs and turn tricks for as little as 25 cents can learn to live dignified lives. “Sometimes the first step is convincing the women to charge more and reduce the number of clients a day,” said Catherine Wanjohi, a former high school principal who now heads Life Bloom Services International, a Kenya-based registered NGO that is working to help commercial sex workers get needed counseling and training.

“In my seven years at Life Bloom, no women has ever said ‘I want to be a prostitute,'” said Catherine to a group gathered at the Menlo Park home of Pam Salvatierra, herself an advocate for change.

Catherine is in the Menlo Park area through the efforts of  two local women – retired M-A teacher Margo McAuliffe and educator/fabric artist/child advocate Anita Dippery. Margo is Executive Director and founder of Kenya Help and Anita serves on the board with responsibility for fundraising. The organization’s mission is to provide resources and support for women, children, and youth in the communities of Naivasha District of Kenya where they’ve successfully built a secondary school for girls.

Kenya Help and Life Bloom’s mission dovetail nicely, with each organization working to make a difference in impoverished African girl’s and woman’s lives. Life Bloom uses a peer model approach, starting with a handful of women that extends to  thousands, supporting those involved in the commercial sex trade to find alternative means of earning a living.

“Kenya Help has a big umbrella and part of that is to work with Life Bloom,” said Anita.

Catherine is currently raising funds for a “One Step Center,” a safe haven for women that will provide needed services. Those interested in learning more about her organization’s work are welcome to meet her in person at Anita’s Menlo home on Sunday, March 20 at 2:00 pm. Call (650) 325-9936 or email for more information. Online donations to the organization are handled through Global Giving.

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