My Social Work Experience at the Mary and Joseph Life Center (MJLC)

By: Sr. Catherine Mutua Dipl,

I’m Sr. Catherine Mutua, Daughter of St. Ann, working at the Mary and Joseph Life Centre (MJLC). Day to day, I work with women in urban informal settlements (slums), empowering them and witnessing their lives transformed, especially their family lives. Dysfunctional families are one of the most commonly shared reasons women cite for having either abortions or postponing/stopping childbearing. Another reason why these women are afraid of having children is socio-economic concerns, which are characterized by poverty, unemployment, and lack of financial support from their spouses. Due to their economic challenges, these women, unfortunately, struggle to provide basic needs to their children, and they are always afraid of their inability to cater to more children. Moreover, they face relationship problems with their spouses owing to the fact that some women consider themselves too young to give birth or have more children.


Sr. Catherine Mutua Dipl. Community Development and Social Worker, interacting with some women and children during a family field visit in Kabiria urban informal settlements (slums). Most families in the slums we work with face the challenges of extreme poverty and marginalization.

Upon conducting personal research, I have found out that some cases of unplanned pregnancies and abortions are complex to prevent due to an individual’s ability to determine and control the circumstances of their lives. Remarkably, the MJLC team can holistically address these issues. It is always disheartening to listen to women’s experiences of what they have undergone with their spouses when they break the news of their pregnancy. Some explained that they have been coerced and threatened by their husbands to conduct an abortion, and in the worst case scenarios, some have been killed by their husbands on the bases of refusing to obey them. For the young girls living with their parents, some parents have also coerced and procured abortions, against their wishes. Regrettably, for fear of raising their children alone, some of them have had to give in to these pressures and carry out abortions.

Sr. Catherine Mutua during a family field visit to a female-headed household in Dagoretti urban informal settlement. The mother of three was divorced and abandoned by her husband following her daughter’s pregnancy. Her third-born daughter has a seven-month-old baby who would have otherwise been aborted if the MJLC team had not supported her.

During my social work community outreach program, I am able to reach out to many women in their respective homes and assist in matters relating to these issues. My work entails listening and understanding each person’s unique situation. Once the people trust you, they open up, and one can see how best to assist them. I have learned to be cautious and understand that in our society, inequality, and discrimination are rampant. The screws of austerity and budget cuts continue to twist individuals, but above all poverty makes life harder for every family member and family as a whole. Despite the economic and social pressure, I always encourage women facing pregnancy crises to always make an informed choice and choose the life of their unborn child and accord them the dignity they deserve. For those facing other crises, I also encourage them to come to the center and receive the psych-socio support they so vitally require.

Sr. Catherine Mutua engaging with some young women benefiting from the support of the Mary and Joseph Life Center (MJLC) during a community outreach activity in Ruthimitu-Waithaka urban informal settlements (slums).

Since the inception of MJLC, we have helped many pregnant women and girls, fathers responsible for the pregnancy, and families who are considering and/or are being coerced to have abortions and other options to have their baby(ies) born. Through our continuous educational workshops/seminars, we have also empowered many women and young girls with vital knowledge and skills, which has since prevented them from crisis pregnancies. We are also helping those already in need with supportive guidance for psychological, spiritual, and economic livelihood resilience. It is always our joy to see many women in desperate situations come to the center in need for guidance, leave having received the much-needed assistance they require.

Sr. Jovalet Ariho BA (MA Candidate), Shalom-SCCRR in Training Capacity Program, MJLC’s Community Development and Social Worker, in an interactive discussion with young mothers on the importance of good communication in marriage and parenting in their families.

The Mary and Joseph Life Center (MJLC) gives parents extra support that positively and significantly impacts families. Through educational workshops/seminars, family visits, and individual as well as couple counseling, we have witnessed a lot of improvement through our daily inputs.


As we count on our gains, we are also aware that there is still a lot we need in regard to the issue of abortions, neglect of children, and breaking family ties. MJLC works in impoverished urban informal settlements (slums) in Nairobi, and the people living in these locations need a lot of empowerment in order for them to self-sustain themselves. This support will go a long way in helping them transform their lives of poverty, unemployment, and lack of education.  


Sr. Lucy Njori B.Com, St. Josphat’s House Project’s Administrator, and Sr. Sarah Ngigi KRCHN, MJLC’s Nurse and Counselling Officer, with young adults from Kangemi urban informal settlements (slums) after a successful educational workshop on reproductive health and self-care.

Through the support of concerned women and men, we are ready to empower women so they may support each other, too, thus improving individuals and society. We need your help beyond words: please help today!

As a social worker, more than ever, I am encouraged to help more pregnant women and children (unborn and born) from violence in all the areas where MJLC works and beyond. The MJLC is committed to achieving ‘A society where the dignity of human life, women and children, including the unborn, are free from violence and unjust social structures.’

Author: Sr. Catherine Mutua, Dipl. Community Development & Social Worker

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