Tag Archives: women’s empowerment

Samburu Stories: Laresoro Community Well, Yasin’s Story.

Yasin

Yasin Lekomon lives just 200 meters from the Laresoro well.  At 36, Yasin has seven children. The oldest, 20, is now a shepherd taking care of the family goats, far from here. The others are in the school, except for her 3 year old who does not separate from her.

“Before we had to walk very far to get dirty and dark water, like a soup of clay, that we collected with a lot of patience, and we carry back to our house. We spent practically all day working to get the water”. Now she comes to the well each morning, and collects as much water as she needs, for the family and also for the cattle.  “I go to sleep peacefully every night.  I know that tomorrow I will get up and I will have water. Before  the well, sometimes, I could not sleep wondering if I was going to be able to collect enough water the next day. “

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The life of Yasin and all the families living in this area and even the families that have settled here after the opening of the well, has changed radically.  From spending almost all daylight hours busy getting and transporting water, the women can now experience the incredible feeling of being able to dedicate the day to other activities, take care of their children, play with them; cook without being in a hurry and having meals that are more tasty and healthy; meet in the shade of the trees to chat with other women while they make their wonderful necklaces of beads.   Yasin tells me, blushing, as if she felt guilty to admit it, “to rest for a few moments when the sun is at its highest in the sky and makes breathing difficult.”  All that, before the well, was simply impossible.

Yasin 2

Drinking water without limits and without fear of contracting diseases. This is, undoubtedly, the main advantage of the well, but it is by no means the only one. The health of these communities has undergone a huge qualitative leap: the incidence of diarrhea, cholera and other serious diseases that were common before has dropped dramatically, and the toilet and cleaning habits have changed radically.  Yasin does not have a doubt about it and tells me that one of the things she likes most about life “after the well” is to be able to wash the clothes and enjoy its beautiful and bright colors. Before our clothes had only one color, the brown color of the earth.”

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The well has made me happy, and the only thing I would like is to get more wells drilled in the area. Many, many people from the area come here once they find out about this well, and sometimes we are too many to collect water. The next well should be on the other side of the river.”  It is then that I realize that the immense road of fine dusty sand passing by the Laresoro well is the bed of a dry river.

Stay tuned for more Samburu Stories as we introduce you to other families in the Laresoro well community who benefit from clean water because of The Samburu Project and donors like you.

 

This Samburu Story was written by Cristina Saura samburuSTORIES_logo_gray

and features photographs by Mamen Saura.

Go to http://www.thesamburuproject.org to read more

Samburu Stories and join the global TSP family to

provide clean water to families in Samburu, Kenya.  

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Samburu Stories: Laresoro Community Well

20140616_Samburu_Laresoro_070After driving about 30 minutes from Archers Post we arrived at the well of the Laresoro Community, our first visit. From the sand, under the shade of the acacias, a wide pipe emerges. On one side a lever to pump, on the other the pipe, and at its feet a small ditch. Here is the miracle of water. The well serves numerous communities in the surrounding area; many women and children are waiting for us, smiling and welcoming. They greet us affectionately with the Maa salutation, “sopa,” in a festive atmosphere. The women sing and dance to give us a warm welcome and their children, suspicious at the first instance, stare at us hiding behind the cheerful clothes of their mothers, clinging to their kangas. 

20140616_Samburu_Laresoro_046 (Mamen Saura's conflicted copy 2017-05-08)

This well serves a community of about 1,500 people. Women who previously used to walk up to 8 hours a day to get the water essential to be able to subsist, have, for the last three years, access to clean water in abundance, walking now between 5 and 30 minutes. This is the case of Lingoine Lekoloi, a petite woman, with a smile so sweet that it’s impossible to not smile back while you listen to her, wants to talk to me.   She is here with her little one Mbaa, a 4 year old boy and the youngest of 5 siblings. While Mbaa pushes his toy, a roadrunner with rudimentary wheels made by his older brother with acacia twigs, Lingoine tells me that she comes twice every day, once at dawn and again at dusk to fill a 15-liter bottle. “I am extremely happy with the well. It has provided so much relief.” Drinking water without limits and without fear of contracting diseases is, undoubtedly, the main advantage of the well but it is by no means the only one. The health of the community has undergone a huge qualitative leap – the incidence of diarrhea, cholera and other serious diseases that were common before has dropped dramatically, and the toilet and cleaning habits have changed radically.

20140616_Samburu_Laresoro_052 (Mamen Saura's conflicted copy 2017-05-08)

I ask her to tell me her daily routines. The first thing she does in the morning is to bathe her children and prepare them to go to school, after that she serves breakfast (milk or tea) to the family and goes to fetch firewood, cleans her hut, and goes to the well to wash. She prepares the food, ”rests” a little while she works with the color beads. Then she takes care of the cattle off-spring, review the boma’s fence and return to the well one more time for water. By then it will be around six o’clock in the evening, when men return with the animals. Then she milks the goats and offers the milk to the whole family, collects the cattle and stores the excess milk after she sterilizes and flavors it with burnt branches (an ancestral technique that, she explains, keeps the milk in good condition for up to five days).  Lingoine’s story makes me think of the universal multitasking ability of women and suddenly I need to explain that, despite all the distances that separate us, I find great similarities between our lives … she laughs.

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Stay tuned for more Samburu Stories as we introduce you to other families in the Laresoro well community who benefit from clean water because of The Samburu Project and donors like you.

 

This Samburu Story was written by Cristina Saura samburuSTORIES_logo_gray
and features photographs by Mamen Saura.
Go to http://www.thesamburuproject.org to read more
Samburu Stories and join the global TSP family to
provide clean water to families in Samburu, Kenya.  

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Nairobi

KK & LLI felt great when I landed in Nairobi at 7 am thanks to the “No Jet Lag” remedy I picked up at Santa Monica Homeopathic Pharmacy. Lucas was waiting for me just outside baggage claim. Stepping out of the baggage hall is always exhilarating – even with limited sleep my senses all perked up to the sights, sounds and smells of Africa.

As we made our way through the parking lot I could not tell who was more excited to see the new truck. We celebrated our new wheels all the way into Nairobi as we fought morning traffic which didn’t bother us because we were in our NEW TRUCK!!! Through the years, transportation has always posed an enormous challenge for our little organization so the truck is a significant milestone for The Samburu Project.

Our day was filled with meetings, but first we went to the NGO Coordination Bureau to check in on our NGO status. Did you know that The Samburu Project is a US nonprofit, a Kenyan NGO and a Kenyan CBO? These are all great things for good reasons, but each requires attention to stay in compliance. Just a few of the glamorous details we have to handle in order to run an international organization.

We met for hours with Kariuki, our hydrogeologist and Ajay, our well driller. It’s so fun to sit down with people who are as passionate about water and love doing it as much as we are. We shared ideas about ways to better our work. In the end we set a schedule for our 2013 Well Drill. Now, I just have to be sure that all of our funding comes in by June 30th!

Afterwards I had the chance to meet Duncan who has just begun to consult with us on our Kenyan accounting and financials. He too was full of ideas and gave me hope that we may not always be bogged down in the paperwork.

After a long day in Nairobi we are headed to Samburu. Stay tuned!

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My eye-opening meeting with Satla and Saatho from Sarara Women’s Group

After working in the office all morning, Lucas and I headed back to our lodging around 1PM for lunch and to rest before going back to the office later in the day. I didn’t appreciate just how cool the office was until I stepped outside; by this time the sun was beating down with no reprieve. I am extremely thankful to Lucas for allowing us to “take it easy” today rather than going straight to the field- I don’t think I could have handled walking to the nearby wells on my first day in this beautiful but very hot region.

Anyways, I got back to my room with lunch waiting for me (will upload photos of food later… it is absolutely delicious!) and decided to take an afternoon nap although the temperature in my room was not conducive for a lovely cat nap. Nevertheless, tired from all the traveling, I was able to pass out before waking up to a phone call from Lucas. He had run into two ladies, Satla (the one on the right) and Saatho (the one on the left), from one of the women’s group and they were eager to meet with us. My first interaction with local well community leaders!  I began to realize that a “regular day in the office” came with many unexpected turn of events as community members will constantly seek out Lucas. In this case, not only did they want to meet and talk with us, but they also conveyed to Lucas that the well in their community, Lentanai/Ntepes Well, was not pumping water at the volume that it normally does. Lucas immediately called Paul, our well maintenance guy, who sped off on his motorbike to investigate.

At 3:30 pm, the two leaders from the Sarara Women’s Group (one of many women’s group in Samburu; Lucas’s late mother was actually the previous leader of this group!) came to where I was staying to show their appreciation and also inform me about the problems in this community. They began by saying that they were really grateful for The Samburu Project to come into this community and drill wells. They testified how access to clean, safe drinking water has reduced their burden of finding water. With the free time they now have, these two women are committed to better the lives of the women and children in this community. They are truly shakers and movers in their community.  Satla and Saatho are involved in the getting women to do the following activities and do all of this without being paid: bead and jewelry making, farming initatives, micro-enterprise loans, environmental protection, political empowerment, and last but not least awareness about FGM, female genital mutilation.  The purpose of writing this particular blog is to share what I learned about this last matter and to bring to light what goes on in this culture and in many other African countries. I am not writing this to judge or ridicule the culture but because I know it is Satla’s and Saatho’s desire to have the international community informed about this practice in hopes that together we can slowly bring an end to this engrained procedure. Moved by their discussion about it today, it is the least I can do but to share it with you.

Like in many countries, FGM is very much engrained in the Samburu culture, especially in Samburu East.  I do not claim to be an expert on this topic or why the Samburu people practice this, but I have included a few cultural/social causes taken from the World Health Organization website: FGM is often considered a necessary part of raising a girl properly, and a way to prepare her for adulthood and marriage. FGM is often motivated by beliefs about what is considered proper sexual behaviour, linking procedures to premarital virginity and marital fidelity. FGM is in many communities believed to reduce a woman’s libido and therefore believed to help her resist “illicit” sexual acts. FGM is associated with cultural ideals of femininity and modesty, which include the notion that girls are “clean” and “beautiful” after removal of body parts that are considered “male” or “unclean”.

Whatever the reasoning might be, I learned that the elder men are the ones that promote this practice.  Therefore, the women try and educate the community on the negative aspects of FGM (there really are no positive aspects).  Satla herself went through the procedure and I could see in her eyes the pain and anger she harbored because of it; she is motivated to end this procedure in her community so that her daughter and other young girls will not have to go through the pain and violation as she did.

In addition to persuading the community to put an end to FGM, the women go further and become pro-active. If they hear that a girl is about to undergo FGM, the women will go to the lady that will be performing the circumcision and come up with a plan. Since the men will not go with the child to the procedure, the ladies in the women’s group will crowd around the girl and pretend to do the circumcision themselves. In order to convince the father that the procedure happened, they will make a small cut somewhere (such as the leg) so that there is some blood present. Also, they show the girls how to walk as if they did get the procedure. So far they have successfully done this 3 times already! But it doesn’t end there. If the girl gets married and pregnant later on, she cannot have her baby in town because the women that help with the birthing will notice that she is not circumcised and will circumcise here then and there. Instead, the women need to make sure that these girls give birth in the hospitals where they will not be forced to have a circumcision.

Out of the two women, Satla spoke the most during the entire meeting but when it came to this topic, Saatho chimed in and you could tell how strongly she felt about this issue.  I hope that if this raises any questions, that you will look into this issue and become informed as well.

Oh and for those that were wondering about the well and what the problem was… On our way back to the office, Lucas gave Paul a call. Paul said that it was an issue with the rubber and it has been fixed and is working fine now.  Lucas and I will be visiting this well and hopefully four more tomorrow by foot (Juma is working fast and furiously to get our car repaired). Let’s hope I don’t turn into a red lobster by this time tomorrow.  Good night!

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