In my 8 years visiting Kenya I had never been up the Rift Valley. So in November 2018 I decided to take myself to Nakuru, boarding a local bus that wound its way through lush green vegetation. The district is known to be fantastic for rearing sheep and scattered across the bright green hills many of these wooly animals were peacefully grazing in the late Summer sun. Lake Nakuru is best known for its flamingoes but its but is also home to a large pelican population.
‘Nakuru’ literally translates to cool in Swahili, the main language spoken in Kenya. For me the 23 degrees was perfect. For my taxi driver it was freezing. He kept on winding the tinted window up, plunging me into darkness whilst I kept on winding it back down to see the lush green hills and feel the cool air on my face and the fresh air in my nose.
I spent the night in a huge safari tent on grassy slope over looking the Mnengai crater as a guest of the Maili Saba camp. James, the manager suggested I visit Anisha who runs a project in Nakuru town called One Tribe Mama.
Anisha (above centre) is a qualified councillor and play therapist who has been working with vulnerable women and children for the past 14 years. Meeting her and listening to her talk about the project brought tears to my eyes. In Kenya there is little help and support for vulnerable young mothers who find themselves alone looking after their babies. Often they have been victims of rape or were promised the world by a married man who, when he found out they were pregnant, ran as fast as his cheating legs could carry him. This often leads them to abandoning their children or living in abject poverty unable to feed themselves and their young ones.
At One Tribe Mamas, young mums can join a 12-month programme to receive practical skills training in sewing, beading, accounts and hair and beauty to empower them to support themselves and their children. Here they gain a sense of self-respect and achievement as they themselves run the project together with Anisha, who as a therapist and councillor has a deep understanding of what they are going through and is always on hand with help and support.
Whilst at One Tribe Mamas I met Vivienne (picture above) and Dennis. At 14, Vivienne is a very young mother. The father of her child loves her and wants to support her and his baby but has been put into jail for having a relationship with a juvenile. With Anisha’s help and guidance Vivienne is learning how to be a mother to 3 month old Dennis and through the project is earning a good living to support both of them.
Milly, another young mother and Nathan also benefit from One Tribe Mama. Milly was very happy to sit and chat and show me the beautiful tote bags the project makes. Milly showed me around the rooms at the back of the studio that her and Vivienne share with another young mother. There are 2 spotlessly clean rooms. One is the kitchen and eating area and the other a bedroom housing 3 bunk beds where they can sleep soundly and safely with their babies.
Child rape and marriage is a real problem in Kenya. I have heard many stories that fill me with sadness and rage. However, I left One Tribe Mama and Anisha with some hope that there is a way out for these woman. Anisha’s organisation provides a much needed support network that is working to create better lives for these woman and their children.
The One Tribe Mama Project was founded by Mission in Action, an Australian charity who have been running an orphanage in Nakuru for the past 14 years. You can read more about them here https://www.missioninaction.com.au
During my visit I purchased 10 beautiful tote bags for Artisans & Adventurers that have been hand made by the mothers I met at One Tribe Mama. Each bag is unique and will make the perfect gift this Mother’s Day so grab one before they are gone!