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Offering Hope in the Red Light District of Nairobi

Creator:
Published:
April 8, 2024
April 8, 2024
Learn how Eunice's organization serves women working in the red light district of Nairobi, Kenya through hope.

The word "rejesha" is a Swahili word that means "to restore." It's a fitting name for The Rejesha Project, a grassroots organization that has been serving women who work in the red light district of Nairobi, Kenya, since 2019. Eunice started this project to help feed, serve, and be in communion with these women.

Eunice shares, "We journey with people for years, and it's so important for us to do that because these women are carrying so much pain and so much trauma. And I don't know about you, if you've been in a situation where you just feel like you're carrying so much baggage, being rushed is not going to get you to change. Actually, you need people to just walk with you and to just be there."

Video Transcript

Nairobi, Kenya

Eunice: Yeah, it's nice. It's the best time to be in the city. Doesn't have a million people, a million cars. We are right at the heart of Nairobi city, and this is Kirinyaga Street, the red light district of Nairobi. We reach out to women and girls working on the streets, so these are female sex workers and eat together, serve them, and just be neighborly.

In 2019, Eunice founded “Rejesha Project.” The name Rejesha is derived from a Swahili word which means “to restore.”

I think there is the myth that people have that women choose to be in this industry. And I often ask, "How is this a choice?" 89% of women and girls working in sex work come across violence and abuse, and that happens on a regular basis. They sacrifice their lives, they sacrifice their safety to provide for their children. That is not a choice. This is not a dignified way of earning an income, and that's why we reach out to these women.

We don't ever ask a woman to change or, "You need to exit." Only when she says, "I have been thinking that I would like to explore a different alternative," then we share about the things that we do. We journey with people for years, and it's so important for us to do that because these women are carrying so much pain and so much trauma. And I don't know about you — if you've been in a situation where you just feel like you're carrying so much baggage, being rushed is not going to get you to change. Actually, you need people to just walk with you and to just be there.

(Group of women gather with the volunteers from Rejesha Project to share a meal)

Eunice (speaking in Swahili): Hi, what’s your name? Rachel? My name is Eunice, and I want to welcome you here. I haven’t seen you in the streets before. How did you hear about us?

Rachel (in Swahili): One of my friends told me about you.

Eunice (in Swahili): What’s on your heart today?

Eunice (in English): We hear women who just say, "I want out. I want to do something different with my life. I have my own goals," and for that reason, if all we get to do is to offer hope to these ladies, if that's all we get to do, then we will stick it through.

I hope that these ladies feel loved, and I hope they feel safe, and I hope that they feel that we can be trusted, and I just hope they feel seen.

(Eunice and volunteers stand on the street talking to a woman)

It's you. It's you.

Woman: It's me. (Speaking in Swahili) This is my granddaughter. She just started school. I want her mother to go back to school. I’ll work while I still have strength, and make sure they can stand on their own when I’m gone.

Creators:
Grotto
Published:
April 8, 2024
April 8, 2024
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