Naramatisho Women's Group
The Oretiti Women's Group is located in Maasailand in southern Kenya, on the outskirts of the famous Amboseli National Park. In 2014, Dr. Maureen Valley and Samson Saigilu met with approximately 20 of the women from the Oreteti boma (village) to discuss their ideas for a collaborative and sustainable business if 1World 1Tribe would provide seed money to get the project started. The women met under an Acacia tree and many ideas circulated. It was concluded that the best idea of all would be bee hives! The women would sell the honey at the local market and tourist lodges. In the spring of 2015, the women secured the land for their apiary (one of the women’s husbands donated his land for this cause), pooled their money to register in the county for a women’s group certificate, and opened a bank account. In September, 2015, 1World 1Tribe coordinated the installation of 10 Kenyan Top Bar Hives and began the Oreteti Honey Bee Apiary! Education and training are also a big part of this project, not only for the women to learn about bee botany and hive management, but also about hive product processing, marketing and sales.
The Naramatisho Women’s Group is also located in Maasailand in southern Kenya. The women live in Olgulilui, a very arid and remote part of Loitokitok District. A similar meeting and discussion was held with approximately 16 women from the Naramatisho boma and Dr. Maureen Valley and Samson Saigilu in 2014. They decided to use their seed money to purchase a posho mill which is used to grind corn into meal (maize flour) for ugali, the most common staple starch in their diet, and other uses. They would not only sell the maize flour at the local market and but also supplement their families diets, especially during times of drought. The Naramatisho women have also registered within the county government as an official women’s group and have opened a bank account. They meet once a month to discuss their posho mill business.
Kenya has approximately 42 ethnic groups. The Maasai, although well known, only comprise about 2% of all the ethnic group people in Kenya. Historically, they are nomadic pastoralists. However, with modern times and their land being squeezed, they remain in the same locations more often then moving about (although they will still relocate if they need to, i.e. for grazing their livestock in better places.)
Maasai women have experienced high levels of marginalization for many years. Examples of this can be seen in their lack of property ownership (including livestock), high mortality rates, heavy workloads and physical suffering. Traditionally, they do not attend school, they undergo female genital mutilation (FGM,) and are forced into marriage at a very young age. Polygamy is an old and accepted cultural practice. The women build the family homes with sticks, mud and cow dung, take care of the children, fetch fire wood and water from far distances, tend to the livestock, go to the market, cook and clean. The Maasai community is very patriarchal, with minimal opportunities for women to challenge these circumstances or influence community decisions. For these reasons, Maasai women are among the poorest and most disadvantaged in Kenyan society.
Although almost 100% illiterate, these women are highly intelligent and want a better life for their children, especially their girls. Education for their children is their dream. Empowerment for themselves is also their dream. 1World 1Tribe believes in helping them realize their dreams and currently has two projects aimed at empowering them and improving their economic circumstances. These are the women of the Oreteti and Naramatisho groups. 1World 1Tribe hopes to embrace more women's groups in the future.