Together Changing the World


Ann’s House

Teens at computers with babies

I was deep into the 10th year of the work I love. Women’s rights. Women’s equality. And women’s chance to change their world.

The Women Like Us Foundation’s mission to educate women and girls was always front and center in my life.

We traveled to Kenya with 18 women and volunteered. We supported women-led charities that saved girls from female genital mutilation and in another location, a school of 270 children. We were on our way to meet a woman named Ann who was passionate about helping teen girls stay in a school situated deep into the Rift Valley.

Meeting Ann

It’s not easy to ride in a jeep day after day and travel for hours on dirt roads that are complete with potholes and mud. But it was important.

When she walked toward me, I saw the light and determination in her eyes, the way she held herself, the perseverance of her goal, and the love in Ann’s heart.

That’s where our work together started. If we were to help teen girls find strong futures, educations, and skills for a life of economic stability, we needed to help their mothers be examples. And with some trepidation mixed with courage, Ann and I began.

The Beginning

We started by teaching them to sew. At once, there were five women. The numbers grew, and there were 12 women. They met in their homes. All of them had never threaded a needle. A 21-hour flight distance away, Ann and I Skyped weekly to strategize, raise money and continue building the dream.

Months later, a message landed on my phone—the most terrible news. Ann had died. Ann had been a victim of domestic violence.

Her work for equality and education for women was her way of fighting her own battles. Why didn’t I listen better when she said she wanted to come to the United States? Why didn’t she tell me of her situation? What could I have done to help her? I would have. I would have found a way for her had I known.

Then I Decided

With $3,000 from a new donor, we started the Women Like Us Center in Kenya.With Edwin and Jacky, who was a part of Ann’s team, we had begun. Every day, every move, I saw Ann’s bright, beautiful face. And her memory kept me going.

We rented a house at the edge of the slums, put up a Women Like Us Center sign, and hung Ann’s picture on the wall.

The women and their families found us. They were curious.
What is this place? How can we learn here?
And so it began.

Now, when you walk by the Women Like Us Center, you can hear the hum of 25 sewing machines and are welcome to come in to visit our clothing boutique. You can see the chicken coup and the women tending the chicks, the vegetables sold at the market, and peek inside to our computer lab. Or maybe it will be graduation day when the women wear caps and gowns and celebrate with their families.

Over 90% of our women are victims of domestic violence and are getting stronger at our counseling center. And over 800 lives have changed, including their families.

Agnes now teaches her daughters to sew. Valentine just started her own microenterprise business. Jacky works at the local grocery using her computer skills. And so many more are finding their way.

That decision changed lives, including my own.

Linda Rendleman signature