WCI and OWC Videos


HIghlights of Sewn Seeds 2017   https://youtu.be/qIgF4YUKRnE


Videos of OWC members      


Alison and Iris about the Women's March   http://abc7news.com/1709362/


 Iris          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCkRbTxj3cc  


 Regina   https://youtu.be/VsJypwTbYWc  


 Vivian    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pESNJDGglVQ 


 Sukay     https://youtu.be/ne3bwpnNFcc  


 Sybil       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOg3I1ta0D8  


 Avril (Board Member)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bk1uXhmAzIU    


 The Purpose of Women's Centers Sept 2016   https://youtu.be/RRm-D3dpo0g



 Sewn Seeds Event Highlights  April 2016        https://vimeo.com/164646621


 Oakland Women's Center Tour   Nov 2015       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOIAhVu-FGI


 Jack Lukeman Benefit Concert   July 2015      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDaYlFL4oiw


 Baraka Women's Center   Dec 2014                  http://youtu.be/2ESX8Gx3T1Yhttp://youtu.be/2ESX8Gx3T1Y


 Baraka Women's Center  Nov 2013                   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqkuJ67Z8IA?rel=0


WCI and OWC News

Jan 21, 2017


The Women's March Oakland


A lot of us were there but, with the crush of people, we didn't all connect.   100,000 marchers!


Congratulations to our Program Manager Alison Mata for her amazing work as co-lead organizer of the Oakland March.


Fabulous energy! Let's keep up the work of building women power at Oakland Women's Center.


January 17, 2017


Published in The East Bay Express 'Letters to Donald Trump"


I Am the Essence of Love by Regina Shipman, OWC Member and Outreach Coordinator


(Ode to Mr. Captain of the ships of fools)

I am not your convenient vagina, not your booty call, not your punching bag, or the brunt of your jokes, your sick excuse of a reason! On the contrary, I am the opposite of hate, the complement and birth of the nation — me and my nature, my ovaries, my uterus, my determination. My voice matters. Respect my body (collective) or forever feast on the famine, the rotting flesh of war.


Dec 10, 2016

Holiday Bazaar

at Oakland Women's Center



Vendors - OWC Members and Local Enterepreneurs

Black Ink Caricatures - Mia Shaw

Creations by Iris – Jewelry  –  Iris Corina

Devine Design - Mychune Bell

Dirty Mouse   Soaps – Michelle Rodriguez


Fantabela – African-inspired clothing  – Esther Fame

Guatema Clothes - Sophia Morales

Goddess Jewelry –  Nakia Dillard

Jo Renee’s Ornaments  – Jo Phillips

Kenya Help  –  Flora Sullivan

Latisha Baker ArtWorks – Unique earrings and art

Ms O's Designs – Clothing and jewlery – Ophelia Harvey

OaklandsOwn - T-shirts

Pots to Jars - Jams, jellies, nuts  – Charlotee Coleman

RegSed - Scented Oils and Lotions - Sederia Lewis

Renna Designs – clothing and jewelry - Renna Moore

True Devotion Designs – Ornaments –  Mabel Ellis

Whipped Body Butter Queen  – Sacharia Shipman


Seafood Gumbo and other delectable treats prepared by Unique Bites – Erica Lansing

Raffle, giftwrapping, holiday cookies, door prizes, groovin' music 


November 28, 2016


106 Members of Baraka Women's Center join a march in Nairobi to end sexual violence against women.

 October 6, 2016


Baraka Women entrepreneurs show their products to Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta at the MSEA Exhibition.

BWC now provides meeting space and support for eight table banking groups with over 140 members.

July 16, 2016


Oakalnd Women's Center community BBQ.  

Great energy, food, singing and games!


June 29, 2016

A Windfall of Lingerie! 


a la folie of Oakland donated nearly 400 items of fabulous French lingerie to Oakland Women's Center. 

OWC members got their groove on, snapping up all the wonderful finery.



Feb 16, 2016


Baraka Women's Center in Nairobi has been on haitus since October 2015. The Center lost its lease and some  personnel were dismissed. The whole story will be told once the Center is back on track.

WCI will contine to forward all donations designated for Baraka to the Center's bank account for use in restoring the Adult Education program.

Stay tuned for more details.



January 2016 

WCI received two chunks of money:  the proceeds from a Charity Buzz Auction for tickets to Watch What Happens Live! with Andy Cohen;  and a grant from the Safeway Foundation.



August 23, 2015

Susan Burgess-Lent, WCI's Executive Director has been listed on The Dynamic Women Behind 20 Amazing Non-Profits by Wear Your Voice Magazine. 


WYV Mag listing of SBL Aug 2015.docx
Microsoft Word document [394.2 KB]

June 29, 2015

WCI Board Member Grant Williams just completed a 10-day visit to Baraka Women's Center, assisting with strategic planning and conducting Edge workshops with members and male relatives.


May 27, 2015

WCI complete a successful CrowdRise campaign, raising $11,070 to support Oakland Women's Center programs.


January 28, 2015

We got great organizations to work with in Oakland, the home of West Coast activism. We believe we'll succeed here by cultivating local leaders, local money and strong community support.


Nov 12, 2014

Baraka Center hosted its first Eye Clinic for 161 women after visions problems came to light in Adult Education classes. Specialist were provided by Kikiyu Hospital.

Members paid a small exam fee and WCI is subsidizing the cost of glasses and medication for 23 women who need them.  


Nov 8, 2014

Charity Buzz has done WCI proud by auctioning two appearances on Andy Cohen's Bravo show Watch What Happens Live.  WCI received a total of $6,800 from the auction. 


Oct 20, 2014

Executive Director returns from Nairobi.  

Nairobi 2014 Mission Report from WCI Ex[...]
Microsoft Word document [88.0 KB]

September  9, 2014

Oakland Tribune

Fundraiser for Women's Center in Oakland is Sunday


August 26, 2014

Computer Education Program begins


Supported by donations received through the Crowdrise Operation Girl campaign and with donated computers from MP Rachel Shebesh, Baraka Center will begin Computer Training classes for 20 members on 8th Sept.

The program will expand as additional grants are received. This is huge for the women.


July 26, 2014

WCI Board member Grant Williams is interviewed by Ashland (Oregon) Mayor Stromberg about his visit to Baraka Center in May-June 2014.


May 27, 2014


WCI Board Member Grant Williams is visitng Baraka Center, lending his hand at teaching English, Geography and Astronomy.  He's lending his feet to dance workshops with the ladies.

May 1, 2014


WCI is looking for a larger home for Baraka Center - a building with space for two offices, 4-5 classrooms, a computer lab and library along with commercial space for 6-10 member-owned small businesses.


The commercial space will support  Baraka Center's transition to self-management and its continuing programs. We wish to partner with investors to  create this community  economic engine.  Contact Susan@WomensCentersIntl.org

Rachel Shebesh presents textbooks to Stiffin and Teresia

April 9, 2014


MP Rachel Shebesh returned to Baraka Center with Nairobi county representatives, bringing promised textbooks and computers. The textbooks for the Adult Education Program benefit the Certificate Track students working to complete primary education.  The new computers will enable creation of the planned computer lab at the Center. Many of the women are eager to develop computer skills. They danced in celebration.

March 26, 2014


The Honorable Rachel Shebesh, Nairobi County Women's MP, visited Baraka Center today.

After a tour of the Center and ongoing classes, she was so moved by the successes that she pledged to work closely to assist the Center's work.

Among her many generous offerings:

$400 to divide among the 150+ women in attendance - the equivalent a day's wage for most.

Three computers for the Center's new computer lab;

$300 for BWC's book drive for the Adult Education Program;

Assistance with ongoing efforts to gather food for the Center's  most needy member families;

Assistance with identifying a larger facility for the Center. BWC has outgrown its home in just nine months!


This is a HUGE breakthrough for Baraka Center's public profile in Nairobi.  We are deeply grateful for Hon Shebesh's generousity and commitment to the work of the Center.


Congratulation to Teresia for enabling this visit and to Stiffin all the staff who made the visit a success.  We are PROUD!


March 11, 2014



Consider how much you use your computer in a day.

 Now imagine a staff of 10 people sharing TWO computers. That’s the situation at Baraka Center.


We’ve been searching for donated computers for months – both for our staff and for a planned computer lab for our 535 members. Most of the Baraka Center women seldom have access.

They’re eager to become computer literate for their businesses, for new learning, for connections with faraway family and friends.


The breakthrough opportunity has arrived.

WCI can purchase 7 desktop computers for $1,300 through CFSK.org


Let’s make it happen. Rally yourself, your family and friends and make a contribution.

Today would be ideal – but here’s a deadline: March 20.  

$1,300 by March 20th. How easy is that?


Baraka Center’s next transformation is a click away.

Thanks for stepping up.


January 15, 2014


WCI's proposal for Baraka Center's Adult Education Program won a $500 grant from Funds for NGOs. To read the interview with Executive Director, Susan Burgess Lent, click the link below.


December 29, 2013

Executive Director Susan Burgess-Lent has been approved by KIVA as a trustee for Kiva Zip loans for members of Baraka Center.

Status reports on the women's businesses coming soon.

December 10, 2013


YES, We Need More Computers!

WCI is seeking 4-6 desktop computers for Baraka Center's computer lab. The computers will be used by the new BWC Board and by students in the Adult Education and Entrepreneur Training Programs and for computer literacy classes.  This is a tax-deductible in-kind donation!

Please contact Susan@WomensCentersIntl.org

November 23, 2013


Bararka Women's Center graduated 36 women from the Adult Literacy Program and 49 women from the Entrepreneur and Leadership Program in a joint ceremony on November 20th.

We're proud of these women taking important steps to transform their life options.

David Amram

November 20, 2013


Last night's MIRACLES WITH MUSIC concert in Brooklyn  –  an amazing musical experience with stories and virtuoso performances by David Amram, David Weschler, Sanford Allen, Heidi Upton and the Lafayette Inspiration Ensemble,  including a rendition of Kwaheri, a song in Kiswahili.

WCI is honored to have the support of these extraordinary musicians and the Brooklyn community.  Asante sana!



Pictured below (left to right) Janis Russell, Director, Lafayette Inspirational Ensemble; Sanford Allen; David Amram with members of the Inspirational Ensemble


VIDEO of performances

Study War No More:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQ0G6a8oAH8 

Finale - Kwaheri: www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLgYJvMmxM4

November 8, 2013

 Change Happens Foundation has awarded an $8,000 grant to WCI to support the Adult Education Program at Baraka Center.  The program is expanding to serve three levels of adult learners. 

Baraka Center Board Members with Center Manager

October 22, 2013


Members Elect Baraka Board of Directors


The members of Baraka Center elected their first Board of Directors. These nine women will help steer the Center toward sustainable self-managment by the end of 2014. The members have also re-invigorated three committees to address community issues in Health, Business Development and Education.  A Welfare Committee was added to help members manage personal and family needs.

Susan with members of the Mwangaza Group, a women's business cooperative

October 4, 2013


Executive Director Susan Burgess-Lent returned today from a month at Baraka Women's Center.  Her mission report is posted here.

August 28, 2013

WCI's Executive Director will travel to Nairobi in September to meet with the staff, members and partners  for an annual review of our progress at Baraka Women's Center.  She'll be bringing back lots of new photos, video and stories to share.  Stay tuned!

August 20, 2013


The Center's first namesake has arrived - baby Baraka, the child of Lydia M.

July 29, 2013


A busy week at Baraka Center.  

The Entrepreneur and Leadership Program, led by Catherine Wanjohi and Wanjiru Ngigi, began a second 16-week training with 62 women.


15 members completed a 5-day teacher training program conducted by the Adult Education Department of the Kenya Ministry of Education.


80 women completed the first of three workshops on gender-based violence awareness and prevention conducted by MEGEN.

July 8, 2013  


Baraka Center has a new home!

Baraka Women's Center has just moved to a new site in the Pangani area of Nairobi. Three classrooms, an office, a meeting area and kitchen.  

July 2, 2013


WCI is pleased to announce two new members of WCI's Board of Directors.  

Danielle Posa, New York

Beth Orero, California

Please see additional information here

June 20, 2013


The voluntary efforts of Swiss Re employee Avril FitzGerald have provided WCIs with a grant through the Dollars-4-Doers programme of the Swiss Re Foundation. 

The Foundation's goal is to address social and humanitarian problems worldwide and build local capacity to face them. WCI is grateful for this important support. 


June 19, 2013


Desire to improve their children's welfare drives a lot of the learning at Baraka Women's Center.


See more kids here.    

June 6, 2013


Baraka Center is moving to a new larger site on July 1.  Your contributions this week enable us to purchase additional furnishings to make the new Center a welcoming, safe place for learning and mutual support.


The Adult Literacy Program is moving into its sixth month - and we're extending the course for the Beginner level through October.  


May 26, 2013    Engaging Men in GBV Response


The first workshops for Baraka Center's Gender-Based Violence Response (GBVR) Program engaged the men in discussion of the causes and impact of violence against women.  47 men participated in a series of three workshops conducted by Men for Gender Equality Now (MEGEN). 

Sophie Dahlin, Ariel Heyman, Wayne Fontaine, Susan Burgess-Lent, Devin Richmond, Noelle Eben, Alison Mata, Becca

May 19, 2013


Success! WCI's May 16th fundraiser gathered 17 new donations for our work at Baraka Women's Center.  See our growing list of supporters here.

Asante sana to all our new allies!

For those who couldn't attend – and for those who want to understand why our work is important and deserves your support – see below.

SBL Speech for Fundraiser.doc
Microsoft Word document [63.0 KB]
Trainer Catherine Wanjohi (right) with graduates from Entrepreneur and Leadership Training

March 19, 2013
We're delighted to announce the graduation on April 12th of 72 amazing women from Baraka Women's Center's first Entrepreneur and Leadership (E&L) Training. We're celebrating four months of diligent study by women living in extreme poverty.


"I'm proud to be learning from the challenges instead of giving up." Bancy W.


The joyful excitement rippling through families
"I'm in awe of my wife's transformation." Catherine N's husband
"We have a different mom - happier, more determined." Veronica N's kids


The unity that gives women strength as members of Baraka Center
"They do give me a vision...they care for me and I am happy." Grace W.


The extraordinary passion and skill of trainers Catherine Wanjohi and Wanjiru Ngigi
"Our women just need very little support to start telling themselves what they have always known but not believed in – that they hold the key to their destiny." Catherine W.


This is how we change the world: enabling the unique gifts of forgotten women to shine through.

March 12, 2013


We are pleased to welcome two new partners:


The Nairobi County Department of Adult Education has donated 20 textbooks on a variety of topics to assist our Literacy Program. And so begins the Baraka Center Lending Library.  Thank you Mdm Rotich!


The Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship Program, funded by Equity Group Foundation, is providing a series of presentations for the women including budgeting, savings, bank services, and debt management. They are also offering free accounts to Baraka Members. Thank you Teresia Gachau!

Feb 20, 2013

Catherine N, 36, enrolled in the Entrepreneur and Leadership Training:


"I used to sit outside here (my house), counting cars and seeing people pass by, and just pity myself. I didn’t know I was sitting on my fortune..Look at how I am now, a very busy woman."  [She's established a green grocer business]

February 12, 2013


Baraka Center has engaged 46 women in developing a program to address violence against the women of the community. We are working with the Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW) in Nairobi to develop systems of prevention, intervention and treatment for women with experiences like these:


... Her husband beat her and broke her four teeth. She is still with him because he is the bread winner.

... She tested positive for HIV. Her husband beat her that she was the one who brought the virus, then he left her alone with children, without food and jobless. 

...When she joined Baraka Women Center, [her husband] tried to deny her to come for business training, he tried to threatened her with a knife but she was rescued.


Women's Centers International affirms to each woman at our Center:

"You can heal and learn and grow. We believe in you."

She begin to believe – again, or for the first time – in herself.


Enable us strenghen and support them. Your donations make it happen.

February 5, 2013

Excerpts rom a wonderful report by Stiffin Ndungu, Center Manager...
4th February 2013 marked another day in the history of Baraka Women's Center. The literacy class finally began. It was another of those moments when i am almost pushed to shed tears of joy. Every day when i see another beam of hope shining in the faces of these women, i know that we are chasing our vision...that in a small way, we are doing big things.

It is orientation day for the Literacy Trainees. Eyes focus on me as i walk to the front to read out a welcome to the increasingly anxious trainees. The assumption at hand is they may lack basic language and writing skills. The right approach is needed.
I try my wit in languages. 'Muriega,' i say in Kikuyu. Then 'Mwiaseyo' in Kikamba. Then 'Nang'o' in Dholuo and 'Achamge'in Kalenjin, and finally 'Habari zenu' in Swahili. The trainees laugh loudly. One woman asks, "How come you know so many languages?" And another, "Wewe mwalimu!" which loosely translates: "Wow, teacher!" That gives me the chance i wanted.
We discuss the program, the expectation from the trainees, the expectations from the teachers, the manager, the staff, Baraka Center and also Women's Centers International. One thing is very clear in every trainee. They cannot hide their joy at being enlisted to the program.
'I want to be able to sign my documents. I don't know how to make a signature,' says Teresia Muthoni, who has difficulties walking.
'I want to be able to read newspapers,' quips Mary Njeri Mwaura, in her late seventies.
Agnes Kavata raises her hand. 'I want to be able to write my name." Her goal is simple and clear.
From the rear seats, another hand. 'I want to be taught literacy skills before the day of election. I want to make an informed decision before voting,' Benedetta Wairimu declares.
As the expectations are echoed within the hall, one thing stands out. This is going to be another blessed moment for them.
As time rolls, the session becomes more interactive. The young are here, and so are the old. They discuss openly how they want to be transformed. They have one goal in common. To learn literacy skills.
Some of their inspiration, one says, is drawn from the story of Maruge, the 73-year-old Kenyan man who went back to school when free primary education was introduced in Kenya.

Fast forward: It is the second day and teachers take the center stage, and are at their best passing knowledge and a change in attitude. And the trainees are up to the task. When the session concludes, I go to share a light moment with them. They nearly drive me to the ground with laughter. "I need an eraser! I made hundreds of errors!" Teresia Muthoni quips. She is the jocular one in the class.
Everyone shares a story of the first day in class. Some have not stepped in class since they were born. Others stepped into a class decades ago. This is a whole new experience. As they show me what they have been taught, the memory of the first day in the E & L Program hits me. Only that this time, it is as funny as it gets! Can't wait for the next session!

January 22, 2013

The Women of Baraka Center, under the guidance of Health Committe chairwoman Shelmi Njeri and Program Assistant Teresia Waikuru, are developing an intiative to respond to violence against women in the community. Stay tuned for developments.

Photo: Kariua slum in Nairobi, home to many Baraka Center members

January 14, 2013

Ten women graduated from WCI's Literacy Teacher Training presented by Joseph Matheka, National Director of PALM. Now they're ready to teach other members of Baraka Center how to read and write.
Level 1 and Level 2 literacy classes start in early February for at least 50 women.

December 13, 2012 

Reports of wonderful progress are coming from Baraka Center.  Read more...

November 28, 2012

It's the holiday season and we're feeling joy in the wind.

This year we uncorked the exuberance of the ladies of Baraka Women's Center.
They never thought anyone would help them learn, or see their beauty, their powerful potential, and show it to them. Or find hope and joy again.

But we did and they have. Help us keep their candles lit.
Click one of those DONATE button screen right.

There... you've just invested in the strength of over 300 amazing women.
Peace and joy to you from all of us at WCI

October 11 - 24, 2012

Executive Director Susan Burgess-Lent and Program Manager Devin Richmond traveled to Nairobi to meet with the women and men of Kariua. In numerous meetings and discussions, the name and shape of their Baraka ("blessings" in Kiswahili) Women's Center began to evolve. Read more...

September 11, 2012

Susan Burgess-Lent won a $5,000 Marigold Ideas for Good Grant to support the operation of WCI.


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