Ministry to needy, vulnerable and marginalized women – Assumption Sisters of Nairobi
Name of Project: Cardinal Maurice Otunga Street Girls Empowerment Centre.
Managers: Assumption Sisters of Nairobi.
Vision: Cardinal Maurice Otunga Girls Centre desires to see responsible and reliable youth (girls) who will contribute positively to nation-building.
Mission: To facilitate spiritual, psychological, social, and economic empowerment in order to help vulnerable girls develop to responsible adulthood.
Target Group: Young women aged 16-22 years who require emotional, psychological, social, and economic empowerment for self-reliance.
Background of the project
The Cardinal Maurice Otunga Girls' Empowerment Centre (CMO) is a vocational training centre that was started in 2004 by the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi and under the umbrella of the Archdiocese of Nairobi.
Inspired by the message of the Gospel of Jesus about care for the children we seek to embrace the vulnerable girls and to give them an experience of peace and healing love
“ Then Jesus took the children in his arms and placed his hands on each of them and blessed them (Mk 10:16).
Girls enrolled into the centre are taken through vocational training skills, as well as psycho-social counselling and are provided with an environment for spiritual development. The Centre’s ultimate goal is to prepare the girls for gainful employment upon graduation.
Objectives of CMO
The empowerment programme is guided by the following objectives
i) To provide a safe and secure environment within which traumatized girls admitted in CMO can experience emotional and psychological healing in order for them to undergo integral development.
ii) To provide technical skills in catering, sewing, knitting, art & craft and basic computer – so as to empower the girls for self-reliance.
iii) To facilitate behaviour change programmes and self-awareness /development inputs.
iv) To offer psychosocial counseling support in order to facilitate for development of self-esteem and restoration of lost dignity.
v) To encourage spiritual/moral development so that the girls may live up to God’s plan for them.
vi) To work in partnership with the government, NGOs and Churches in the rehabilitation and empowerment of former street girls, orphans and vulnerable girls who would otherwise not be able to access such services without the kind of support CMO offers.
Role of parents/guardians towards empowerment of girls
In order to facilitate linkage of girls in the centre to their families the project encourages them to participate in the following ways:
i) Living with the girl when she is not in CMO so that she develops a sense of belonging, and to enable her to practice the social skills she is learning
ii) Offering moral and material support to the best of their ability. (Those who are able contribute a little subsidy to support their girls).
iii) Participation by way of supporting the girl towards settling down after she has graduated from CMO.
iv) Becoming the contact channel through which CMO can connect with and follow up the girls after they graduate from CMO
Girls who come to our centre choose to specialize in one of two major courses, namely; Catering & Accommodation or Sewing & Knitting. In addition, all students learn mat making, Beadwork, quilt making, and computer skills. Life skills education and counselling are also offered to the girls.
Catering (Food Production & service)
Dress making and basic tailoring
Computer & Information technology skills
Graduates: At the completion, of course, the girls are armed to embrace life responsibly
CMO uses community life and sharing to inculcate social and communication skills. The Centres boarding system offers them an opportunity to learn to live with each other and with other people when after their graduation.
Other communitarian activities include:
Sharing meals in the common dining hall
Participating in sports and drama together
Dance and music as part of recreation activities.
Spiritual/Pastoral Services to the girls
The impartation of knowledge about God is a major objective of CMO empowerment process. The girls read a verse of the bible and pray together at the beginning of each day. Twice a week they attend mass at the nearby Resurrection Garden Chapel where they animate the masses. Priests are also invited into the Centre for special mass celebration for the centre. We work in collaboration with other Religious communities living around us.
This picture shows the girls attending a Sunday Mass where they are the choir. The choir is being directed by Sr. Santrina of the Loreto Sisters order.
Girls are also prepared for sacraments and many of them have received Baptism, Holy Communion and Confirmation during their time in the Centre.
On special days of worship, the girls also offer special services – the picture below shows them leading the procession during Corpus Christi Mass at the Resurrection Garden (2018)
Self Reliance Activities
The girls also learn farming activities and plant vegetables for consumption in the centre while others are used for cookery class.
No matter what the past has been, each one has a dream that can be transformed to reality and the power to do so is within. There is no obstacle that is too great that one cannot surmount. Being in CMO is an opportunity to discover this reality and to embrace it.
Service with Love