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Local Heroes Journalism Competition

2nd place - Life Bloom International

by: Sammy Khisa Wanjala

Prostitution is touted as the world’s oldest profession. In the present day, it has donned many faces that include child prostitution, sex tourism, male prostitution, escort services among other categories. All these are practiced with one goal in mind: to get money!

It is a topic that is spoken in hushed tones yet its consequences are suffered by many. It remains the chief cause of HIV infection, re infection and spread in modern society. The trade goes on at any time of the day but thrives best in the cover of darkness.

Catherine Wanjohi, founder of Life Bloom International sought to find out from these women, in the hope that she could rescue even one. The former head mistress says the idea to form an organization that would rehabilitate and reintegrate sex workers back into society was born after listening to her house-help who shared her story with her.

Life Bloom International is situated in Naivasha town. The organization was strategically set-up here to deal with a booming sex trade that the town is well known for. The trade aided by a robust economy that is supported by horticulture, floriculture, tourism as well as a good road infrastructure. Indeed, transit trailers traversing the busy highway that connects to major urban centres and across borders, promote prostitution considerably.

The organization has so far managed to recruit over 50 women who belong to different age groups. The women meet up once in a month to discuss issues that affect their livelihoods and in these gatherings they share experiences, counsel and encourage each other.

The organization’s mandate is to help women rediscover themselves. To achieve this, the women are offered formal and informal skills that can help them reintegrate back into society with their heads held high.

Catherine Wanjohi engages in social work, giving guidance and counseling especially to young prostitutes. She teaches of the dangers present in their line of work, the common one being that of contracting HIV AIDS.