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Umoja Village, Kenya

August 1, 2009

Rebecca Lolosoli

Rebecca Lolosoli is the leader of Umoja, an all women’s village in a remote area of Kenya. It has been Lolosoli’s bravery and guidance that has led the Samburu women to transform their lives. Leaving behind a world of discrimination, domestic violence, poverty, child marriage and forced female genital mutilation (FGM), they are now offered a “Violence Against Women-Free Zone” to live. Working together, the women have created programs to promote economic independence, education and health care.

It hasn’t been easy for Rebecca Lolosoli who has had to deal with beatings, death threats and attempts of economic sabotage from the men. She also has the challenging task of healing the broken spirits of her community.

Lolosoli was invited by the United Nations to attend a recent world conference on gender empowerment in New York. “That’s when the very ugly jealous behaviors started,” Lolosoli said, adding that her life was threatened by local men right before her trip to New York. “They just said, frankly, that they wanted to kill me,”

The women of Umjoa run a cultural center and camping site for tourists visiting the adjacent Samburu National Reserve and in partnership with Fair Winds Trading and O Bracelets the women earned over $47,000 in 2008, which allowed them to install a water system for eight villages.

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