When women come together, powerful changes can happen. Here’s an inspiring example of how. It’s the story of Hellen and Sylvia, two Indigenous women in Kenya, and the transformative friendship they’ve forged, with your help.
Hellen is a mother of five from the rural town of Chepareria, Kenya, and a member of the Pokot Indigenous People. She works hard on her one-acre farm to support her family by selling her crops in the local market.
Sylvia is a Maasai woman from the town of Ololulunga, Kenya, some 250 miles away. In her impoverished, rural town, Sylvia was struggling to find ways to support her family. Her maize crops were dying due to drought. And the extra money she earned from selling what little maize she grew in the market was just not enough. She needed another option to survive.
That’s where MADRE – and you – come in.
With your support, MADRE and our local partner group, the Indigenous Information Network (IIN), bring Indigenous women like Hellen and Sylvia together for community exchanges. We give them an opportunity to visit each other, share ideas on how to raise money for their families, and learn new strategies to combat the impacts of climate change.
Earlier this year, Sylvia made the eight-hour bus journey and traveled to Hellen’s town for a MADRE-supported community exchange because of your generosity. Without this opportunity, Hellen and Sylvia would have never met. For many of the women we support, these exchanges are the first time they will travel outside of their own communities, and the first time they will meet with Indigenous women from different communities.
There’s another reason why their meeting is so unlikely. Indigenous communities in Kenya are often pitted against each other. Sometimes it’s because of resource scarcity linked to climate change. These days, there are growing tensions around the upcoming elections, and many fear outbreaks of violence.
But through your support of MADRE, you bring women together across divides. Exchanges like these are more than just a way for these women to meet one another. They offer women from different communities an essential way to build new alliances and friendships. And they are an effective way to prevent violence. After all, it’s much harder for people to turn against each other when you’ve visited each other’s homes, met each other’s children, and formed meaningful friendships.
And that’s just what Hellen and Sylvia did. When Sylvia visited Hellen’s farm, she was immediately impressed by what she saw. And she got just the life-sustaining idea she’d been searching for.
You see, in addition to farming fruits and vegetables, Hellen started a poultry farm. When she started it a few years ago, she had 500 chickens. Now, she has over 1,500! MADRE provided her with a jiko – an energy-efficient cook-stove – and now, her chickens are thriving. That’s because Hellen made a small tweak to the design, creating a safe warming area for her chicks that ensures their healthy development.
When she needs extra money, she sells her chickens in the market. One chicken sells for 500 Kenyan shillings, roughly $5 USD. This, Hellen tells us, is crucial for her family. It helps her to put food on her table, pay school fees, and care for her children.
Sylvia was immediately inspired by what she saw at Hellen’s home. She thought, “I can do that!”
She took a picture of Hellen’s chicken coop, noting the materials and the dimensions to build it herself. And she exchanged phone numbers with Hellen so that she could ask questions and benefit from her guidance and friendship.
Sylvia brought her new knowledge back with her to Ololulunga. And she shared what she learned from her new friend with her community. One short month later, she already has her own poultry farm up and running! She invested in 24 chickens to start. She tells us that each chicken lays one egg per day. Already, she said, she’s earned extra money by selling eggs in the local market, and has raised enough money to pay for her children’s school fees!
Thank you for making this friendship and exchange happen! Through your support, women like Hellen and Sylvia learn life-sustaining strategies from each other. And they form important relationships that otherwise would not be possible.
When you support MADRE, you help women in Kenya and around the world gain the tools they need to provide for their families.
In the town of Naramam in West Pokot, Kenya, climate change is wreaking havoc on the lives of women farmers who depend on the land for food, income and survival. The rainy seasons are getting shorter and shorter, and access to much-needed water for drinking and for crops is scarce.
But with your help, women farmers are learning adaptation strategies to combat the impacts of climate change and to secure their families' survival. For example, MADRE and our local partners train Indigenous women to harvest rainwater to last through droughts. And great news! Just two weeks ago, we delivered four new rainwater harvesting tanks for women farmers in Naramam—thanks to your support!
Here are some photos of the women with their new water tanks.
Thank you so much for your support of this vital project! With your support, women and girls can spend less time hauling water from distant, dwindling streams. And families will have enough daily water to drink and to nourish their crops.
Thanks to your support, MADRE continues to help Indigenous women farmers in Kenya adapt to climate change. Where we work in Kenya, women face persistent drought that threatens their families' survival. But with you by our side, we're bringing tools and training that help women combat the impacts of climate change and raise healthy families.
For example, MADRE and the Indigenous Information Network, our on-the-ground partners, just delivered 30 clean water storage tanks to farming communities in the Transmara region of Kenya. With these clean water tanks, women farmers will be able to store clean drinking water for their families through drought.
What's more, we also delivered over 30,000 seedlings to women farmers there. With these seedlings, women will plant tree nurseries. When you help a woman plant a tree, you help combat deforestation and protect local water sources from erosion and contamination.
Here's a photo of a recent tree planting session.
Thank you so much for your support of this vital project! With your help, Indigenous women farmers in Kenya are learning how to combat climate change to ensure their families' survival.
Thank you so much for your support of the Help Women in Kenya Confront Climate Change project. With you by our side, we bring clean water and share strategies to help women farmers battle frequent and severe drought.
But that’s not all your support helps to achieve. With your help, we give local women leaders the skills to advocate for better climate policies, and we bring their important voices to international climate talks.
Just last month, your support helped bring three of our Indigenous Kenyan partners to an international climate summit organized by the United Nations.
Here, our partners called for the inclusion of Indigenous women’s solutions in climate change policies. Here is some of what they said:
Where I come from, we have big problems to get clean drinking water - which is also related to climate change. My organization supports the women of the Indigenous communities, and teaches them to collect rainwater on the roofs of their houses, and gather for dry periods in collecting containers. In addition, we plant trees for our firewood, so that women no longer have to walk for kilometers to collect wood. I am for the first time on a UN climate summit. For me and other representatives of Indigenous communities, it is important that you take our concerns seriously. Together, we have a much stronger voice and can reach policy-makers who often don’t listen to us in our own countries. There we are hardly noticed in what we do, and receive no financial support for our projects. But here, we can be heard. Women play the most important role in our communities; they need empowerment, they carry everything. – Margaret
Many Indigenous communities in Kenya are able to detect the levels of climate change on their lives. We help them to develop adaptation plans and to express their concerns to the government and be heard. We want the government to actually understand what is at stake. – Edna
Putting women’s expertise at the center of climate negotiations is a vital step to create climate policies that will protect us all.
Thank you for making this work possible!
As a girl, Lucy knew she wasn't supposed to play on the banks of the rushing Ngoboro River. If she wasn't careful, she could fall in and be swept away. Today, a relentless drought has reduced that river to a trickle, and families struggle to get the water they need.
What's more, people get sick from diseases spread from sharing their scarce water supplies with their livestock. So through her organization, the Indigenous Information Network, and with MADRE's help, Lucy took a simple, effective action to create separate water sources for humans and for animals.
Watch this video to learn more!
These new water sources, protected against disease and dirt, mean that women and their families can rely on having clean, safe water. Thank you for supporting this project! Your gifts helps us maintain and protect these vital water supplies.
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