Celebrating Bold Women: Meet Caroline, Esther, Agnes, Brenda, and Theresiah
For the last six years, we have worked with strong and remarkable women in the communities we serve. We believe that ensuring gender equality in sanitation increases adoption of hygienic practices and leads to sustainability. Because they often spend more time in the communities where they live and are primarily responsible for taking care of their families, women have a stronger incentive to invest in sanitation, especially at the household level. In this post we highlight five of these women committed to improving their neighborhoods.
On World Toilet Day, 2011, Caroline Mueni couldn’t wait anymore. Having witnessed firsthand the effects of poor sanitation in urban slums, she was brave enough to be our very first Fresh Life Operator! She was undeterred by the fact that the community members had never used or seen such a facility before. Embracing Sanergy’s mission of affordable, accessible, and hygienic sanitation, she forged on, and today her three Fresh Life Toilets serve over 200 customers every day. Her decision to purchase the first unit catalyzed the Fresh Life movement, and we now have over 975 Fresh Life Toilets in our network!
Agnes Kwamboka is an astute businesswoman who has survived harsh times. For many years, to provide for her family, she ran an unlawful business selling home-brewed alcohol that frequently led to run-ins with the police. Her bold moment came when she decided to put an end to her illegal venture and to invest in two Fresh Life Toilets. Her thriving business not only earns her a good income but has also afforded her the peace that comes with running a legal enterprise. Agnes’s additional income has allowed her to go back to school and pursue an education. Her story is proof that it’s never too late to make a change for the better.
Esther Munyiva was tired of the endless streams of waste flowing through in her community. “Flying toilets” were strewn all over because there were no toilets nearby for people to relieve themselves. Just like her neighbours, her family had to walk long distances to access a toilet. At night, this was especially dangerous for women and girls who were vulnerable to attacks as they did their business. As a mother of two daughters, she decided to confront the problem by purchasing two Fresh Life Toilets. A respected community leader, she used her influence to rally other members of the community to join the Fresh Life network. Thanks to her resilience, she has recruited several community members to join her in investing in hygienic sanitation for their families.
Teammate Brenda Mwelu is a shining star both at Sanergy and in her community! Sanitation is a big challenge in Mukuru and its environs, and Brenda has been at the forefront in fostering cleanliness and hygiene practices! She trains and supports our Fresh Life Operators to ensure they maintain high hygiene standards in all our Fresh Life Toilets. She is driven by the desire to provide good sanitation for her son Tyron, her parents, and her neighbors in Mukuru Kwa Reuben. Read more about her life and work here.
We cannot help but admire Theresiah Mukoi’s passion for children that saw her go into uncharted territory. She set up a school to provide an education to kids from poor families. She believes that education offers them an opportunity to realize their dreams. However, a lack of proper sanitation was a big problem in the school as the students had to use neighbouring toilets. To ensure a conducive learning environment, she had two Fresh Life Toilets installed. Her school currently serves over 250 students who can now work toward achieving their dreams. Read more of her story here.
These women have taken brave steps to invest in sanitation for their families and friends, and they have become powerful agents of change in the community. On International Women’s Day — and every day! — we celebrate their boldness!
International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. The theme of International Women’s Day 2017 is Be Bold For Change.