Mama Lorenza's Vocational Centre


Mama Lorenza’s Vocational Centre is a vocational female school located in Kwale County, Kenya.

Opened in 2011 and designed by Ticino architects Aurelio Galfetti and Carola Barchi, the institute was born from the desire of Lorenza Bernasconi to build a safe, organized and efficient structure in which to welcome and train girls from difficult backgrounds to give them the opportunity to build themselves a dignified future.

Target no. 4 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda promoted by the UN is dedicated to quality education and aims to guarantee everyone a quality, equitable and inclusive education and lifelong learning opportunities. Mama Lorenza’s Vocational Centre contributes to achieving this goal.

The project

The goal of the facility is to offer professional education to girls between 16 and 24 who could not afford secondary education and to accompany them until they obtain a diploma officially recognized in Kenya. Each year the Mama Lorenza’s Vocational Centre hosts a total of 64 female students who live within the centre for 9 months a year.

Training offered:

  • Two-year course in Tailoring and leather processing
  • Two-year course in hairdresser and beautician

In addition to the curricular lessons, all female students take courses in computer science, management, life skills and cooking, carry out physical activity and help in the cultivation of the vegetable garden, located within the centre.

Counselling sessions are held constantly with each of them and we work a lot on female empowerment, with the aim of encouraging the acquisition of their own autonomy, dignity and decision-making power.

At the end of the two-year period, female students take the NITA national exams, after which they receive a diploma necessary to enter the world of work. Most female students are also offered an internship opportunity.

The good management of Mama Lorenza’s Vocational Centre is guaranteed by the director, Jane Mwaka, who has been working with Children of Africa for many years, and by a staff of 12, all local.

The institute is registered with the Ministry of Youth and with the TVET Authority, the body that supports the professional training of young Kenyans.


With the purpose of making the centre self-sustainable, we have launched income-generating activities including fruit and vegetable cultivation, chicken breeding and production of bread for both internal use and for sale in local communities.

In addition, during the months of school holidays, the centre offers short courses in computer science, basic tailoring and beautician for women and men of the community. The courses are structured in modules that, if desired, allow the achievement of national standards to take the exam and obtain the diploma.

We have opened a small internal showroom where the works made by female students during the tailoring and leather processing course are exhibited and some sold Emèl products and a beauty salon open to the community.

Mama Lorenza’s Vocational Centre is a certified centre for hosting young Kenyans from other institutions to take the NITA exams.

Numbers and testimonials

Since the opening of the institute, we have had 233 registered, of which 214 have obtained the diploma.

96% of outgoing girls find work immediately and 5.6% have opened their own businesses.

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  • Promote female empowerment
  • Making girls self-reliant and aware
  • Eradicate the cultural aspects, often present in local communities and in the family, that hold back change and the emancipation of young women in Kenya
  • Creating jobs and contributing to the reduction of poverty rate and unemployment

Translated by Monica Giancaspro