How Jenipher is Empowering Women Through Dress Making And Educating
Jenipher is a dressmaker from Kenya. With creativity, patience and a big dream in her back pocket she made it her...
Jenipher is a dressmaker from Kenya. With creativity, patience and a big dream in her back pocket she made it her mission to educate young women in her local communities about personal hygiene by providing them with free panties and sanitary towels she designs and makes herself. Jenipher’s story – and personality – are so inspiring that I had to learn more about how this change-maker made her dream come true. Here’s her story.
What was your big dream, and what inspired you to go after it?
My biggest dream is to serve women, mostly young women. I became a dressmaker and that put me in a position to serve women through my work.
I make dresses for women, school uniforms for students but that’s not all. Because I am a designer, I further trained in sanitary towel design and manufacture. I now make them for upper primary girls and secondary school girls. It’s my dream to educate them about personal hygiene. That’s why I make sanitary towels for young girls, and support nearest schools by supplying them for free.
Did you always had this dream?
Yes, that’s why I was trained as a dressmaker. I wanted to make a difference. Making dresses for women serves them. It makes them feel more confident, and gives them a sense of importance. It shows them they matter. By supplying soap, panties, and sanitary towels to young girls I educate them. At the same time it helps build community, and allows me to support them to improve their social life and overcome the struggles they face.
What was one of the first thing you did to get you started?
The first thing was to train myself to attain the skills of dress making and to get involved in community development. I joined small groups in the community to gain experience, like the Shisaba Water Resource Initiative (SHWARI) where I made many friends and learned more about development projects. That’s where I met someone who later trained me to become a dressmaker. I also volunteered at the Lunza Orphans and Vulnerable Group. This group helped me understand how to handle vulnerable children and their caretakers, many of them HIV victims. I now help take care of 50 of those children.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in working toward achieving your dream?
The biggest challenge in Kenya is poverty among families. This is the reason I was encourages to supply sanitary towels to young women in schools. My biggest personal challenge is that I have very low capacity (I’m doing this on my own) despite the fact that I have the necessary skills and the opportunity.
What do you wish you would have done differently? What would you warn others about?
I think it’s important to cultivate your dreams, and not be afraid to fail. You also have to dream big and keep on dreaming that you can achieve your dream. In my case this comes down to capacity. I dream of more equipment, more women helping me so we can serve more young girls in our communities.
Would you say you’ve achieved your big dream yet?
No, I have not achieved my dream yet. What I do is my passion, but I feel isolated sometimes because I’m the only one doing it right now. Achieving my dream would mean that I’m training other women to do what I do. To be dressmakers and to provide sanitary towels and panties to our communities for free.
What do you think helped you achieve it?
Getting involved in community projects helped me realize we can all make a difference. I was also motivated to pursue my work by friends who told me I was doing a good job. This self-confidence is especially important in the beginning. What also helped what to have my own sewing machine and a small room where I can work. Having those tools is important, without them I could not do what I do.
What’s the best advice you have for others who want to follow their big dreams?
Educate yourself and get the skills you need to pursue your dream, whatever your situation. Involve yourself in your community to learn more about how you can make a difference. Don’t wait to be ready, but get started with what you have. Make sure to surround yourself with friends that support you, and be smart about public relations. To achieve your dream you have to put yourself out there, and show the world what you’re doing.
More about Jenipher
Jenipher was born in Tanzania, and now lives in Kenya with her husband and two children. Her focus is to empower young women through education about personal hygiene. Jenipher loves to connect with individuals, organizations, and churches to improve and further expand the work she does supporting her community.
If you want to get in touch with Jenipher, you can use the contact form on this website and I’ll dispatch your message to her.
Jenipher’s favourite quote is:
Where there’s a need for change, change is inevitable.
Jenipher’s big dream for the world is:
To see sustainable, successful women without poverty and diseases (such as cancer) support their communities.
If you want more inspiring stories of Big Dreamers, I’ve got great news for you! This story is part of an interview series, you can find all entries here.