Kenyan woman works to restore dignity for victims of sexual violence
Fri, 09/02/2022 – 15:00
In Kenya, the New Scent Centre helps restore dignity to children who have been victims of sexual and gender based violence.
Restoring dignity became a passion of Flora Mwikali, New Scent’s founder, because of her own experiences. When serving as youth and children’s sponsor in another organization, she recalled hearing the stories of the young boys and girls as they shared about how they were being sexually abused.
“This opened a curiosity in me, because basically what they were doing is they were reminding me of my own story of rape,” Mwikali said. “Although I had been raped when I was a bigger girl than them, rape is rape at whatever age.”
As Mwikali heard more stories, her passion continued to grow. She calls the passion a “holy discontent.”
“One of the most asked questions within myself was, ‘So who cares?’” Mwikali said. “Who cares that we have girls who are being sexually abused in the Church and nobody is talking about it? Who cares that we have ladies who are being abused by husbands or other men and nobody talks about it in the Church?”
Eventually, Mwikali became so frustrated that she began shutting herself in the office to scream. Mwikali felt there was a lack of urgency or care about these issues, so she left to
begin work in a rehab center. She saw how drugs and alcohol were the basis for so many of the situations she was hoping to end. Her call to help these victims began to take shape, and she felt God giving her a name for the future ministry: New Scent.
“When you’re going through abuse — any form of sexual abuse — when you remember it, you remember so many things, and they come so vividly,” Mwikali said. “Sometimes you’ll even remember the smell of the musk of the person that was abusing you.”
Mwikali started a part-time job as an adjunct professor at Africa Nazarene University and continued to plan for the future. She quit her full-time job and took two months of rent money to purchase a building for her ministry.
In June of 2015, she began the New Scent Center, a children’s home and rescue center. New Scent Centre is now home to 70 children, most of whom are girls between the ages of 3 and 20. The main objective is to restore dignity to survivors of rape and sexual assault.
Mikwali recently became a district licensed minister in the Church of the Nazarene and leads a local preaching point. The church, New Scent Grace Chapel, offers Sunday services led by Mwikali and features music from residents of the New Scent Center.
As for the future of New Scent Centre, Mwikali is in the process of establishing a school and hopes to open a recovery program, which would allow New Scent to offer a variety of services to help restore victims.
“That’s a branch of this that I hope to open [a recovery center] within the next five years or so, unless there are a lot of miracles,” Mwikali said.