Restoring Dignity and Inspiring Women – A Chat with Teammate Christelle Nzau
Since childhood, 24-year-old Christelle has always felt special appreciation for her family and particularly her grandmother. Christelle credits her grandmother, who raised her in Kangundo, with mentoring her into a hardworking young woman who cares for her environment and the people in it.
When asked why she joined Sanergy, Christelle explained, “I had two very distinct experiences around sanitation while growing up.” In Kangundo, Christelle learned from her grandmother about the importance of maintaining privacy and dignity when using the bathroom. Having learned these lessons, she was stunned by her first visit to Mukuru, where her parents had moved for work. She was only nine years old when she was directed to a shanty toilet to “help herself.”
“I could barely set my feet on the fragile toilet floor; its walls were made of tattered sacks, and I felt I did not have the privacy I needed,” she says, describing the toilet as one that was barely in use. The ultimate culture shock was witnessing flying toilets and people exiting bushes after having “done their business,” which her grandmother had taught her was wrong.
Six years ago, Christelle finished high school and relocated to Mukuru Kwa Reuben. Flying toilets and bush visits were the norm for many people; however, she chose the shanty toilets despite the risks involved, especially at night.
Today, her dignity has been restored: she and her neighbors have a choice of three Fresh Life Toilets located a short distance from her house. “I am particularly happy that I am actively involved in this movement as a Sanergy teammate. Fresh Life’s impact has been immense, and I have directly benefited from it,” she says.
With no post-secondary education, Christelle was in and out of odd jobs for several years. Two years ago, her first job with Sanergy changed that. Christelle is a Field Officer serving the Kamukunji area. Every day, Christelle heads out to the field to ensure that the Fresh Life Operators have everything they require to offer the best services to the community. She has used this platform to hone her work ethic, creativity, and innovation.
“My teammates have been of great help. I particularly look up to Lindsay, who has vast experience and always shares helpful insights with our team.” Christelle describes Lindsay (Co-Founder) as a leader and mentor to many of her teammates.
During her time at Sanergy, Christelle has developed a passion for community work. She now takes evening classes as she pursues a diploma course in Community Development. She hopes to advance with a special focus on social work.
Her childhood experiences have also contributed to her future goals. “I have one project that I hope to spearhead in the near future as a way of giving back to my community: mentoring young girls who have dropped out of school. I have noticed that numerous girls my age – having not been able to complete their studies – feel that early marriage and parenthood is the only option available,” she says. Through this project, she aims to share with these young women innovative ways of earning an income to achieve financial security.
Christelle Nzau was voted February 2015 Teammate of the Month. She is a Fresh Life Field Officer, responsible for the Fresh Life Operators in the Kamukunji area of Mukuru.