Peninah Nthenya Musyimi grew up in the Mathare Valley settlement outside of Nairobi, Kenya. She was the first woman in the settlement to work her way through school and university. In part Peninah was able to attend university because she learned about basketball scholarships — and after learning to play in 30 days, she earned one. After university, Peninah became a lawyer to defend domestic violence victims, but realized she could help more girls by starting her own organization. Peninah returned to Mathare to support and empower girls in obtaining an education in a safe environment, and started Safe Spaces Nairobi in 2008.
Safe Spaces runs programs to ensure girls know their value and are empowered to become leaders. Girls in Safe Spaces learn computer literacy, reproductive health, and life skills. Some are provided academic scholarships, and some learn auto mechanics and earn a certificate, which is a good career option in Nairobi. Safe Spaces also has a champion basketball team, of course!