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Anne Legei welcomes us happily to their group’s makeshift workshop under a tree in the scorching afternoon heat at Sangaa, just next to Borana Conservancy. Three generations of women form the Nareto Women’s Group, a local self-help team made up of 21 Maasai women, engage in beading among other ventures.
Beading is a traditional activity practiced for centuries by the pastoral tribes of Kenya as a fashion and status symbol in the community and the women in this group engage in the practice to supplement their incomes in a largely patriarchal community where women’s voices are seldom heard and they play a secondary role.
“This is our culture and we all started beading when we were children, my mother taught me,” Anne says as she points at her elderly mother who is seated across us, “She was also taught by my grandmother decades ago and my children have already started beading when they are not in school.”
The women work in shifts when they are busy, Anne explains, some remain at the workshop and bead while others tend to their livestock while others go to fetch water for domestic use and this ensures that the process is expedited.
Laragai House, has been supporting the women by buying the beadwork and they are also adding value to the women’s skillsets by providing them with leather which are then beautifully decorated with the beads.
Bimbi Dyer, the Laragai House manager says that they are looking to build a solid, long-term relationship with the women. “We have engaged them to create door stops, jam covers and to decorate some of our utensils. Laikipia is facing a lengthy drought and the income generated by the women is highly appreciated.”
With the drought ravaging Laikipia and parts of northern Kenya, Anne says that their livestock, which are the backbone of the community have been relocated to Borana, Il Ngwesi and Ngare Ndare Forest and this local arrangement ensures that most of the cattle can survive the harsh conditions.
Borana Conservancy is dedicated to the sustainable conservation of land, wildlife and building local livelihoods. By staying at Laragai House you are making a tangible difference to the future of Northern Kenya’s people and wildlife.
“Borana Conservancy’s mobile clinic comes here 4 times a month to treat us and dozens of community members are employed by them. Most schools in the area are supported by either Borana or Lewa and the benefits of being near the conservancy are immense,” says Anne.
*Some Good News on the international front! Kenya was on Friday removed from the UK’s Red List and this means guest from the country can go back to the UK without quarantining! We can’t wait to host you!