In the Mary and Joseph Life Center (MJLC), we believe that the elimination of violence against women and children is a human rights obligation as set out in various UN declarations:
“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person” – Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 3.
“The child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth” – The preamble to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All Children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection” – Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25(2).
“Calls on all parties to armed conflict to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, and all other forms of violence in situations of armed conflict” – United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1325 of 2000.
A society where the dignity of human life, women and children, including the unborn, are free from violence and unjust social structures.
To promote the human rights and dignity of women and children, addressing all acts of violence against them from conception to natural death.
The Center promotes:
- Dignity of women and children
- Dignity of human life from conception
- Gender equality and social inclusion
- Integral human development and security
The Mary & Joseph Life Center is located at St. Josphat’s House, in the outskirts of Nairobi where seven informal urban settlements or slum areas – Kawangware, Kabiria, Satelite, Kangemi, Dagoretti, Waithaka, and Kibera – interface with or are close to each other. The Center is also accessible from Mathare and Kariobangi slums.
The three main purposes of the Mary and Joseph Life Center are to:
- OFFER Pregnant women and girls, fathers responsible for the pregnancy, and families, who are considering and/or are being coerced to have abortions, other options to have their baby(ies) born.
- OFFER Educational workshops/seminars that are oriented to help prevent crisis pregnancies and help those already in need with supportive guidance for psychological, spiritual and economic livelihood resilience.
- OFFER Counseling, medical support, guidance, and empowerment to women who have had abortions and are seeking assistance for trauma, self-esteem and healing in one form or another.
Thus, the Center, supports a woman by providing care and support during the prenatal period and an opportunity for her and her newborn baby to live as a family unit. This involves promotion of the wellbeing and dignity of women, children (unborn and born), motherhood, parenting and family. The MJLC is a day care facility, not a live-in center.
Furthermore, women who have had abortions and are seeking assistance of one form or another will also be able to receive counselling/spiritual/medical support and guidance from the Center. The Center will assist women who have made the difficult decision or were coerced into terminating their pregnancy, to instill renewed self-respect, and to give empowerment on how to be leaders to other women and girls and families facing a similar predicament. The Center will provide trauma healing and other forms of physical and psychological assistance related to past abortion experiences. At the core of our ethos and service will be the commitment to respect and dignity, and to show compassion for everyone it can possibly help without exception.
Power Imbalances Endured by Women and Girls
Power imbalances and a lack of morality, ethics and rule of law are some of the major factors that have created a paradigm in which women and children are frequently treated violently. Women are often placed in difficult situations with decisions being made for them. Despite the significant proportion of young people residing in slum communities, little attention has been applied to the sexual and reproductive health challenges they face during their transition to adulthood within their harsh environment. The informal marginalized urban settlements create a confluence of factors that place adolescents at heightened risk of poor sexual and reproductive health outcomes. Consequently, the rise in unintended pregnancies and irresponsible sex, especially in the urban slums, is among the most troubling public health problems. It is a major reproductive health issue imposing socio-economic-psychological-spiritual burdens, among other problems, on young women, children (unborn and born), and families – nuclear and extended – at large.
Within the framework of human rights and human dignity, our work ethic will try to reduce or eliminate immoral, unethical, and illegal abortions killing human life in the womb. The Center will help to transform the physical-psychological-spiritual damage inflicted on pregnant mothers and their families, and avoid the termination of the lives of innocent unborn babies. Our services will include access to counseling and prenatal crisis support during pregnancy, and reproductive health information to educate women about their bodies and prevent crisis pregnancies in the future.
There is an urgent need for professionally administered services for women in crises pregnancies, who are considering or being forced to have abortions, to have opportunities to continue with their pregnancies. In the interest of those living in informal marginalized urban settlements and rural locations, often suffering the negative impacts of violent conflict and war, our Center will be equipped with high quality counseling and related services, as well as utilizing all other related medical, psychosocial and spiritual institutions located in adjacent areas.
The Mary & Joseph Life Center will offer the following:
- Crisis Pregnancy Resource Center
The MJLC will equip women with services to help them to make enlightened decisions, knowing that they are not alone then or in the years ahead, for their own well-being and the life of their unborn baby. When a woman with an unexpected pregnancy enters our doors, we will offer her a free ultrasound in the presence of qualified personel to help her decide on the way forward for her, baby and family. Thanks to the generosity of donors, we will offer ultrasound that gives a pregnant woman an incredible view of what is occurring within her body – with amazingly detailed images in 3D/4D.
The Center is committed to spreading God’s powerful and transformative message of desiring great love, mercy, reconciliation and happiness for us. Providing counseling services will be a significant part of this process. We especially strive to reach young people who are on the threshold of their adult lives and young married couples. Educational workshops/seminars will be oriented to help prevent crisis pregnancies and helping those already in need. The educational programmes will include issues such as fertility care and support, religious freedom, theology of the body, and more to be determined on the basis of need.
We seek to provide a loving and empowering environment, emotional and spiritual support, immediate and practical guidance, pregnancy information and counseling, prenatal health and parental education and career advice. We will endeavor to link the well-being of women to that of the child (unborn and born), parenting, the family, and to the health of society as a whole. Empowering and/or restoring the dignity of women damaged in any way by past abortions is of vital importance in the ministry of MJLC. We believe that all women should have access to the information, support and understanding necessary to make informed decisions regarding their lives, that of their children (unborn and born) and the resilience needed for family life ahead.
True equality and social inclusion requires social protection systems to ensure that no human being, from conception to natural death, is denied his or her right to life and dignity. Particular attention should be given to the unborn who are voiceless, yet endangered, hoping someone will speak for them. The MJLC programmes will seek to rescue pregnant women and children (unborn and born), from violence in informal marginalized urban settlements and other locations where the organization serves. Everyday women in Eastern Africa face crisis pregnancy situations, threatening their own and their child’s dignity. Medical (physical and psychological), spiritual, emotional and economic livelihood resilience support are essential to those in crisis and MJLC is the first Center of its kind in Nairobi offering this opportunity.
The main purposes of the MJLC are aligned to the broader objectives of thE
Shalom Empowerment Center (SEC)
addressing Violence against Women and Children
also located at St. Josphat’s House
The Objectives of this Center are:
- To build capacities for peace and conflict management for women suffering violence in locations of inter-ethnic conflict and inter-religious violent extremism, through research, training, development, and transformation of relationships for long-term conflict prevention and management.
- To promote ongoing research and continuous learning to advance social care interventions in order to achieve sustainable peace and holistic development for women and children.
- To create awareness among community groups – men and women –about their role in the transformation of the root causes and the evil/immoral mentality of human trafficking in women and girls.
- To create compatible structures, policies, and procedures to promote protection of human rights and dignity of women and children in remote isolated areas of slums and other marginalized locations, for the promotion of a society where peace, security and development can take place.
- To establish comprehensive plans for collaboration and engagement with government institutions, social care funders and providers, community, and faith-based organizations to ensure coordinated social service delivery.
- To provide sustainable livelihood guidance for women and children who have suffered violence in conflict zones (in informal urban settlements/slums and rural locations), be it inter-ethnic, inter-religious, intra-community, domestic, sexual, etc.
- To create awareness among community groups – men and women, – particularly in conflict environments, on women’s role in conflict transformation, peacebuilding, and development.
- To promote the development of similar Empowerment Centers addressing Violence against Women and Children in other informal urban settlements (slums).
The work of the Center will:
- Counteract the lack of respect for, and the inadequate promotion and protection of the human rights, human dignity, and opportunities for women and children in inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflict environments, among other contexts.
- Address the inadequacies of women and children empowerment in conflict transformation skills and peace-building techniques particularly in locations of inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflict, and urban slum marginalized settlements.
- Seek to eliminate the power imbalances that support all forms of violence against women and children.
- Address the greater burden of emotional, cultural, physical, and psychological violence among women and children, particularly cognizant of the increasing burden of depression, high rates of suicide and mental health issues.
- Provide resilience guidance to counter the increased risk of anxiety, low self-esteem, impaired personal development, and other livelihood issues.
- Address the insufficient mechanisms to promote morality, ethics, and respect for rule of law needed to assist and protect women and children in conflict environments.
- Seek to engage with government, religious institutions, and social organizations such as churches, mosques, and schools to counter all forms of violence, addressing the lack of access to essential education, health and related services.
- Nurture and implement peace education support for children to inculcate a culture of peace and respect among and between boys and girls.
- Explore the infrastructural development of similar institutes in other locations.
At the Center
Mrs. Judith Akedi Otsieno MA, Shalom-SCCRR, Lead Project Officer
Sr. Sarah Ngigi KRCHN, Dimesse Sisters, Nurse and Counselling Officer
Mrs. Nancy Mirera, MA, Counselling Psychologist and Mental Health Worker
Sr. Lucy Njori B.Com, Dimesse Sisters, St. Josphat’s House Projects Administrator
Ms. Esther Njeri Kibe MA, Shalom-SCCRR, Project Officer
Sr. Catherine Mutua, Daughters of St. Anne, Dipl. Community Development & Social Worker
Ms. Ilhan Ali Salah, BA (MA Candidate), Shalom-SCCRR In-Training Capacity Program
Sr. Jovalet Ariho BA (MA Candidate), Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary, Shalom-SCCRR In-Training Capacity Program
Ms. Rose Anyango Owuor, Higher Dipl. Sonography (UltraSound Specialist)
Dr. Wahome Ngare, Obstetrician, Gynaecologist and Laparoscopic Surgeon
Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Tembo, Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding
Shalom-SCCRRR Management Support Team:
Rev. Oliver Noonan MA (PhD Candidate), Shalom-SCCRR Executive Director
Mr. Godfrey Okoth MA (PhD Candidate), Shalom-SCCRR Senior Project Officer
Rev. Patrick Devine PhD, Shalom-SCCRR International Chairman,
Project Coordinator of Patrons and Promoters
Contacts for the Mary and Joseph Life Center (MJLC) and the Shalom Empowerment Center (SEC) addressing Violence against Women and Children are:
Mobile (Africa): +254724903032
Mobile (Africa): +254728647093
Mobile (Africa): +254733612503