The Story That Changed Our Lives
After being falsely accused of, maliciously prosecuted, and sentenced for a crime she didn’t commit, Clean Start Founder and CEO Teresa Njoroge served a one-year sentence at the Langata Women Maximum Security Prison, Nairobi, Kenya. She was accompanied by her then three-month-old daughter as per Kenyan law which permits children aged between O and 4 years to accompany their mothers to prison.
While in prison, she experienced first-hand the plight of the imprisoned women, some like her accompanied by their children, who were crying out for justice.
She became aware of the revolving door of crime and poverty which led to the high rates of recidivism, where newly released women found themselves again behind the prison bars.
Teresa was later exonerated of any wrongdoing and compensated by the government years after serving the sentence. This experience however, inspired her to devote her life to equipping and empowering imprisoned and formerly imprisoned women for the precarious journey of reintegration back into society.
In 2013, along with her still suckling toddler, Teresa met with the Director of Rehabilitation and Welfare, Kenya Prisons Service. This meeting marked the beginning of a journey which brought about the setting up of the first formerly imprisoned women-led organization – Clean Start.
A devoted people leader and a community-centric social entrepreneur, Teresa has been advocating for the rights of children of imprisoned parents, youth and women impacted by the Criminal Justice system mostly due to the criminalization of poverty.
On meeting women, who like herself, had been in prison, Teresa was touched by the women’s stories of rejection, stigma, lack of access to economic opportunities and their painful reconciliation journey.
This further motivated her to steer social-economic transformation and social justice reforms in Kenya and across the African continent.
She is actively building key strategic partnerships, advocating in governments across the African Continent and private organizations for formerly imprisoned persons, to have better life outcomes while, challenging the injustices within the criminal justice system.