After visiting Rebecca several times over the course of a year, the OTA interviewed her in September 2013 to share her story about the Umoja Women’s Group. She founded Umoja in 1990 to help Samburu women experiencing domestic violence and other abuse find a safe haven. Over the decades, she has met incredible opposition from the men of Samburu, but against all odds, she has established a shelter that currently houses 58 women and recently ran for political office in her community. .

My name is Rebecca Lolosoli. I work with the Umoja Women’s Group which started in 1990. We started a women’s village and by 1990 we had three women; now we are 58 women. It is a town where women run, as a refuge for women.

We are fighting for the rights of women, the rights of weak families and the rights of girls. Samburu women have no rights. That is why we fight for our girls to go to school, choose their husbands and have anything like land and cattle like any other human being. This village is the women’s refuge where women and girls come during their troubles such as early marriages, early pregnancies and female genital mutilation (FGM). We also try to help those girls who get pregnant before FGM because their baby will be killed, so we try to protect the girl and protect the baby.

And now women also work fighting for peace. We need peace in Kenya and we want to have peace with other communities like our neighbors, those who are fighting with Samburu: Borana, Turkana and Pokor. So we think that women should bring these peace changes and we want to network with our neighbors (Borana, Turkana and Pokor). We want to visit each other and try to see how we can bring peace between us because we are the victims. It is always women and children who are the victims. That is why we have to think again about peace because there is no development without peace and that is what we are trying to do with the Umoja Women’s Group.

You can visit the Umoja Women’s Village at Archer’s Post, near the gate of the Samburu National Reserve. Rebecca also runs a campground near the town where tourists visiting the Reserve can stay. Proceeds from the camp support the village women and their ongoing fight for women’s rights in the Samburu community. To visit for more information.

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