Women Working Together for Collective Benefit
Last month, Spirit in Action African Advisory Board Member Wabmui Nguyo flew from Nairobi up to the Samburu National Reserve. This windy, hot, dry area is home to SIA Partner Pastoralist Child Foundation. The organization is run by, and for the benefit of, the Samburu people, who are semi-nomadic pastoralists that raise cattle and goats for their livelihood. Wambui sent this report after visiting the Samburu women who received a SIA grant to build their jewelry and souvenir shop.
Working and Sharing Together
The Curio Shop is located on a popular tourist route. This project is run by a group of about 30 women. They also have a bank account that has three signatories, to ensure that the funds are safe. Because the shop is close to their village, they don't have to travel far to make or sell curios. When a group of tourists passes by, the women carry the goods to the road to sell to them while also performing a traditional dance to welcome them to the village. [Listen to the welcome song below.] The women take turns opening and selling the curios to customers who are foreign tourists. The funds collected are deposited in a bank and withdrawn as needed.
As part of Sharing the Gift, they help pay for their children's school fees. When times get tough, the women buy food and share it together. The shop is also used as a meeting place, a place for them to air their grievances, and a place for them to share happy moments.
PCF has a strong presence in the community. It emphasizes community ownership of the program, with women serving solely as leaders. The women have a voice in the community and are not dictated to by their husbands or other males in the village. The Namayana community holds Samuel Leadismo, the PCF founder, in high regard. He grew up with them and is one of them, so he is their son!
The group opposes female genital mutilation (FGM) and is pleased with its abolition. [FGM is illegal in Kenya, though it is still practiced by some.] They support PCF's work to advocate against, intervene in, and prevent FGM and child marriage. One might think that older women who have already gone through FGM would support it, but they have had so many seminars and are aware of the disadvantages.
Beaded jewelry made by the Samburu women. Wambui and Samuel in the PCF office.
Now that more tourists are visiting during these post-Covid times, the group is hoping to purchase enough raw materials to manufacture a variety of products for sale. Given their location and enthusiasm, they have a lot of potential. It was clear that their relationship was founded on compassion and kindness, and it appeared to benefit everyone.
Wambui (center) goes with the Samburu women to fetch water from the river.
One thing that stood out was the scarcity of clean drinking water! The river is far away, and they must travel a long distance to obtain water for use in their homes. They draw the same water that their livestock waters from and it is not a healthy practice. A borehole had been dug previously, but it was already broken.
Thank you, Wambui, for doing this site visit on behalf of Spirit in Action! It is so wonderful to have a local SIA team that can visit and encourage our partners, in a time of restricted international travel.
Look around a Samburu homestead: