Safety Instructors and Planners: Judy Wambugu, a disaster preparedness expert believes that you can only defeat the enemy through strengthening the population through knowledge. Her company which specialises in training in disaster preparedness was founded on this belief.
“I dream of a world where everyone feels safe in their environment. Knowing that you have a plan in the event of a disaster enhances your peace of mind,” she says.
Her business started as an itch that refused to go away. When the American embassy was bombed in 1998, Judy was just 12 years old but she saw the chaos, the rubble and the helpless people. Even when she went on to pursue a career in business, these images stayed with her. She however, only found her true self when she lost herself in service to others.
“When I came back home from the UK after getting my master’s in disaster management, I was confident that I had a solution for Kenya. I however didn’t know how to go about it so I just took the well-paying jobs I got in administration,” she recalls.
Still, there was that burning desire to help. There were fires, buildings collapsing, road accidents and a rising number of terrorist attacks. When she wasn’t working, Judy started training school children in Kibera on disaster preparedness. She tried approaching a few people in the hope of getting funding but none were receptive.
“Kibera at the time was a generally hazardous environment. The fires kept happening but this time, they had a plan. They knew what to do, who to call and they managed to stay safe. This kept me going.”
Finally, in 2014, she felt ready to do it by herself and she founded her company. Safety and security is a predominantly male field in Kenya and it has taken her a lot of persistence and resilience to pull through. Most importantly, she took on a mentor to hold her hand through the initiation into entrepreneurship.
“I work alongside a team of experts in safety to give solutions pertaining to child safety, personal safety and institutional safety. The team assesses all the possible risks in buildings and situations and then gives advice on mitigation.”
This is for the smaller part of the population that can afford to pay for this. For the larger part that can’t afford it, Judy has been seeking like-minded people these past months to come up with a solution.
“Eventually, we hope that safety lessons can be embedded in the curriculum. If you teach a child what to do now, we will have an aware population in 10 years.”