Glenwood Springs’ Mother’s Day Mile hosts Elsie Rotich, Imani Workshop outreach coordinator
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – What do the Advocate Safehouse Project, Mona Lisa Ladies Boutique, and the Imani Workshop in Eldoret, Kenya, have in common?
Marion Nengano (name changed) was a mother of three children in Kenya when she was diagnosed with HIV. She was abandoned by her husband, scorned by her neighbors and left to the streets to fend for herself. She found assistance at the Imani Workshop in Eldoret, Kenya, where she was given medications, employment making crafts, and counseling. She gained back her strength and a new determination to find a better life for her children. She is a jeweler at the Workshop helping other HIV positive women and men.
Alice Keeton (named changed) was a working mother of two boys in Garfield County when her husband hit her for the last time. Alice moved out but was unable to find a place to rent nor money to travel out of state. The Advocate Safehouse provided Alice shelter, counseling, and new resources to make changes in her life. Alice continues to this day as a volunteer at the Safehouse to help other women in her situation.
The opening question is answered in part by these two stories. Though continents apart the women in these two stories share a global commonality. They struggle to provide food and shelter for themselves and their families in the midst of great adversity. Both the women from Kenya and the women from Garfield County are fiercely protective of their families and never waiver from fighting for a better life for their children.
The Mother’s Day Mile, a yearly fundraiser for the Advocate Safehouse Project, has created a local and global sisterhood partnership to empower the lives of women in Garfield County and in East Africa through medical, financial and social support. This partnership has been facilitated through the work of Organic Health Response, a Kenyan HIV/AIDS organization founded by Glenwood natives Chas and Marco Salmen.
Lisa Manzano, owner of Mona Lisa Ladies Unique Boutique in downtown Glenwood Springs, is the local sponsor of the 75 Mother’s Day Mile awards, which are handcrafted by the women and men in the Imani Workshop.
Manzano joined the sisterhood partnership because of her personal and professional experience with tough times. “I know the hardships that women have in their lives,” said Manzano, “and I have always supported the Advocate Safehouse Project. When I heard about the Imani Workshop I felt honored to help these women as well. It’s a great fit for me and my store. Their jewelry is beautiful, and I want them to have a beautiful life.”
This year Elsie Chepkoech Rotich, from the IU-Kenya Partnership, AMPATH Imani Workshop will be visiting Glenwood Springs for the Mother’s Day Mile event. Rotich is a native of Kenya and is currently the outreach coordinator for the Imani Workshop. Rotich was a graduate of the University of Nairobi and a teacher in Nairobi for three years before she received her MBA at the University of Indiana, where she is currently employed.
Rotich is excited to visit Colorado and contribute to the Mother’s Day Mile. “When I was a young girl, I would see commercials in Kenya about Aspen, it was some kind of cigarette, but what caught my attention was the scenery of the mountains covered in snow and it looked beautiful.” Rotich said she hopes to see some scenery and take some photos but “mostly I want to help out at the race.”
Rotich knows firsthand the struggles of women in Africa, and she is grateful for the Mother’s Day Mile support. Rotich and Manzano will be at a special booth selling the Imani Workshop crafts during the race. A special Imani Workshop basket will be auctioned at the event’s gift basket silent auction. All proceeds of the booth and auction benefit the Imani Workshop and the Advocate Safehouse Project.
In addition, Rotich has accepted an invitation to speak at the Glenwood Springs Rotary Club while she is in Glenwood Springs. The Sunrise and Noon Rotary clubs have been instrumental in assisting Organic Health Response to develop a women’s crafts program in conjunction with the Imani Workshop. Rotich is looking forward to meeting the community and to talk about the issues facing the artisans in Kenya.
The 11th annual Mother’s Day Mile will be held on Sunday, May 9, at 1 p.m. at Glenwood Medical Associates in Glenwood Springs. Though the Atlantic ocean separates the two communities they are connected in their common focus of working for women’s health, safety and education. It is the similarities that unite the Advocate Safehouse Project, Mona Lisa Boutique and the Imani Workshop.
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