Kenya: Veronica Wanjiru Kinyanjui

I want to see a society with no human rights violations, especially for women and children.

— Veronica Wanjiru Kinyanjui

Veronica Wanjiru Kinyanjui (43) is a trained counselor working in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital. Since 2003, she has worked on a voluntary basis as the acting project coordinator of the Kangemi Women Empowerment Center, a community-based organization. Kangemi is a poor, neglected and congested neighborhood in Nairobi with an unidentified number of inhabitants from different ethnic backgrounds. The center, which was founded in 1997, runs programs for health, economic empowerment, human rights, youth and children and community organization.

“Mummy, why do you not look for a real job?” the 19-year-old boy repeatedly asks his mother. Veronica Kinyanjui just laughs about her son’s concern. “God will give me a job one day,” she replies. For two years now, she has been running the Kangemi Women Empowerment Center in Kangemi without pay. “We do not have funds,” she says, then adds, “but I want to do community work.” Born into a well-off family in Kangemi, she lives in one of her father’s houses and earns a little income from the rent of other houses. As a young woman, she was sexually abused, and only two years ago did she go public about her ordeal in a magazine interview. “I felt relieved after that. I want all abused and battered women in Kangemi to feel this relief too. ”Kangemi Women - as Veronica Kinyanjui refers to her Center - runs programs for health, economic empowerment, human rights, youth and children and community organization. Once a week free medical attention is available and free legal advise is offered by a lawyer from the Kenya Human Rights Commission. The center does not only want to empower women. Veronica Kinyanjui estimates that up to 10,000 people in 60 self-help groups are supported - directly and indirectly - by the center. “My happiness is to see this office is open everyday. When I am not in the office I miss it,” she reflects. Intervening against drug abuse, rape and family violence is Veronica Kinyanjui’s daily concern. “I pray a lot to be able to do this job,” says the God-fearing woman. “I think God wants me here.” Then the well-composed, almost reserved woman becomes passionate, “I was born an activist. I want to fight for the rights of people.”

Kangemi Women Empowerment Center Kenya Human Rights Commission (Khrc) Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (Fida)