While in New York earlier this year, Clean Start Founder and CEO Teresa Njoroge met with Clean Start friend and partner Susan Burton.
Ms. Burton is the founder of A New Way of Life, a non-profit organization based in California, USA, that provides housing and other support to formerly incarcerated women. She is nationally acclaimed advocate for restoring basic civil and human rights to those who have served time.
Ms. Burton struggled to rise above a life of poverty, violence, and loss, and was enmeshed in the cycle of mass incarceration for nearly two decades. After being released from prison for the sixth time, Ms. Burton was finally able to access recovery services in an affluent area of Los Angeles.
There she discovered and embraced opportunities that were never offered before. She became determined to bring those resources to areas plagued by poverty and over-incarceration.
An Activist, Transformative Leader, Author, Social Entrepreneur and Survivor, Ms. Burton believed in Clean Start’s work and is support supporting us to set up the pioneer Clean Start Centre, whose aim is to provide access to safe, affordable, and stable accommodation that meets the specific needs of women leaving prison in Kenya.
According to Prison Reform Trust (2018) many women lose their homes while in custody and 60% of women prisoners may not have homes to go to on release.
From our lived experience, a safe living space guarantees formerly imprisoned women a stable platform from which to access psychosocial support, economic opportunities and reduce the likelihood of reoffending. Having one of their necessities met, access to housing, the formerly imprisoned women are able to focus on getting a stable job, address health problems and learn new skills with which to access economic opportunities. Thus, safe, and secure housing is crucial in breaking the cycle of offending and the harm it causes to our communities, to the women involved and to their families.
It is this that informed our goal of setting up the first ever safe house for formerly imprisoned women and their children. Our objective is to provide access to safe, affordable, and stable accommodation that meets the specific needs of women leaving prison in Kenya.We are determined to offer each woman an integrated, safe healing space, long-term and non-judgmental support until she is ready to move on.
We are pleased to note that Ms. Burton is supporting us to set up the first ever Safe House in Kenya.