Meet with Karare women who are gradually bringing positive change to the community…

 Celestina Leala

Celestina is a nurse by profession. She has worked under Karare Catholic Dispensary for the last 5 years (the only health facility in the area). Through her efforts and that of the dispensary, maternal and neonatal deaths have reduced by far; this is because most mothers deliver at the dispensary unlike the case before where mothers deliver in manyattas. As a nurse in Karare, Celestina has ensured all expectant mothers go for antenatal care at Marsabit Referral Hospital to receive have their ANC profiles before they start clinic days in their local dispensary. The initiative has helped mothers in a great way!

At Karare Catholic Dispensary; immunization has picked up for the last few years as Celestina with the help of community health assistant officer and community health volunteers, have ensured there are no more defaulters and they started a follow up exercise to those mothers whose children get immunized. Generally, both personal and environmental hygiene of Karare residents has improved due to efforts of the Celestina and other stakeholders who have constantly created awareness on hygiene.

The nutritional status of many under 5 children within Karare have improved thanks to Celestina and the Dispensary Nutritionist for offering health education, creating public awareness on nutrition and making sure the right supplementation was given to the different stages of malnourished children under 5 years.

Through Wilt Hunger; a local NGO, Celestina together with the dispensary Nutritionist have managed to create a Mother-To-Mother support group which promotes nutrition of the mothers, lessons on breastfeeding and kitchen gardening classes.

Celestina is also the chair lady of Catholic Women Association (CWA) for Karare Parish. The group started 6 years ago with sixty-two members. Some of the activities the group is involved with include; members’ monthly contributions, visiting the less fortune in the society, the sick in hospitals, sharing prayer, distributing food and visiting prisoners.

Celestina is a committed and dedicated nurse who loves her community and always on the front line to fight for the rights of women.

Lucia Loltome

Lucia Loltome is a nurse by profession. She served as a nurse at Sololo Mission Hospital for 2 years, later worked for 3 years at Laisamis Mission Hospital and 2 years at Karare Catholic Dispensary.

In her field of career Lucia became a community health promoter with Food for Hungry (FH), Child & Nutrition Health Officer with World Vision, Health Coordinator with Sauti Moja CBO and a facilitator with KARI where she taught Mt. Marsabit Dairy Women Group (Karare) on hygiene handling of milk.

Lucia is now the County Assistant Coordinator for Beyond Zero Initiative serving Laisamis and North Horr Sub-counties.

Under this mobile clinic initiative, Lucia with other nurses provide health services including and not limited to; lab services, clinical services, family planning and referrals. All these services are complementary to those provided by the local health facilities. It is only that Beyond Zero Initiative reaches out to those people far from the health facility.

A part from being a nurse; Lucia is also a Professional Trainer of Trainers (ToT) on gender based violence. Under this capacity she has been able to train women on GBV while working with Sauti Moja; delivered a talk on mentorship and GBV to Bishop Cavallera Girls Secondary School in Karare. Lucia has been called to many youth summits in Karare and Log logo to talk about GBV, STDs/STIs and the effects of FGM.

Having a rich experience in the field of nursing, Lucia is very confident and passionate to help women and girls from Karare make informed decisions on their own. “Girls should be confident enough to make decisions, their decisions should not be communal” said Lucia.

Lucia is one among the many influential women in Karare; committed and confident to serve her community amid challenges and resistance that come along her way.

Ann Letur

(Nachamae Women Group, Founder)

Ann is a nurse at Kamboe dispensary where she worked for the last 4 years. As a nurse at Kamboe dispensary she started a Mother-To-Mother support group, which combines lactating (under 5 babies) and expectant mothers. Ann with other community health volunteers (CHVs) from the dispensary teach the mothers on the importance of breastfeeding and the need to attend clinics and delivering at the dispensary for expectant mothers. Similarly, mothers are taught about income generating activities such like table banking, as this will help members of the group support their families through this.

Ann started kitchen gardening project in Kamboe where women grow kales and other vegetables for home consumption. This was another way to supplement and improve nutritional status of these families.

Ann is also a Chairlady of Nachamae Self-help group, a registered group with a total of 7 women members. The main goal of the group was to empower the women of the group; through the contributions they make every month. Some of the notable activities the group achieved so far include; buying water tanks to harvest rain water to be used in the dry season, the group also started poultry keeping business early this year. Now they have twenty-one chickens in total. The money from sale of eggs is saved in the groups bank account.

The group have sometimes been involved in women and girls talk concerning FGM though not consistent. “Given the support we can mobilize and conduct forums about GBV and FGM that has seen most women and girls suffer in the area, our women don’t have enough education on these issues” said Ann.

Celina Gambare

(Boma Project, Mentor)

Celina is a business mentor working with the Boma Project. For the last one year, The Boma project through Celina, has provided 150 women from Karare with trainings, mentorship programs in small businesses and funds to start and increase their businesses. This has really improved the livelihood of many women in Karare region. In many ways the project has supported women who in turn support their families.

Currently, Celina has been providing trainings and mentorship to 50 groups of women with 150 members, where each group has 3 members. After every 2 years the 1st group exits and another new group of women is trained. The groups are involved in different business ventures including; retail shops, selling and buying of goats & cattle, groceries, beadwork and selling milk.

Celina is also the secretary of Nachamae self-group in Karare, which is involved in kitchen gardening and poultry keeping. This has seen group members provide to the needs of their families out of the funds they get from sell of eggs and vegetables grown in the kitchen garden.

Sabdio Logol

(Mt. Marsabit Dairy, Chairlady)

Mt. Marsabit Milk Women Group is a renown and active women group in Karare. The group started 7 years ago, after a section of women from Karare town center felt unhappy to see fellow women trek all the way to and from Marsabit town 22kms away to sell litres of milk and get money to buy foodstuff and other items. This really disturbed their minds! As sometimes people get killed on their way by the warring community.

Sabdio; the chairlady of the group narrates how they joined hands with other 15 women after they got a startup capital from a local NGO and they decide to buy milk from women all around Karare. In the beginning they could buy around 100 litres of milk, which they boil and transport it to Marsabit for sale.

Sabdio tells of how their dairy business grew from one level to another. With the assistance of Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KARLO), then was KARI, the group was able to get skills on hygienic handling of milk, supported with specialized machines for processing milk as well as other needed materials for keeping milk such like containers and metallic Jerri cans.

In 2015 the group was registered under the name Mt. Marsabit Dairy women group with a total number of 30 members. Sabdio says; “Every member of the group plays her role, there are those who collect milk from the villages; others take it to the market’’

Mt. Marsabit Dairy women group has started making yoghurt and ghee; “Thanks to KALRO for supporting us with yoghurt production machine, the group has started selling yoghurt and ghee, though on small scale to the locals of Karare. Through the profits women get of the sale of milk and milk products they support their families and even pay school fees to their children.”

The group supplies milk to local markets such like Log logo, Merille, Laisamis and Marsabit being the biggest milk depot for the group. Sabdio narrates that their vision is to have a milk production plant here in Karare which can supply milk to bigger markets and population.

Antonella Neepe

(Supoko & Consolata Women Group, Chairlady)

Antonella is the chair lady of Supoko women group which has been in operation for the last 7 years. The group has 26 members. The group has mainly been involved in bead-work and large scale buying and selling of livestock especially cattle. They support their families with the profits from these businesses. Some of the women have already opened up retail shops and groceries courtesy of Supoko women group.

Antonella is also the chairlady of Consolata Women group, a Catholic church women group. It started 10 years ago; now with 23 members. The group get trainings from Caritas a local NGO. These trainings and workshops help them gain knowledge and become empowered as well as understanding that they are part of the community; so their voice must be heard too!

Consolata womens group is involved with beadwork and other church related chores. The beads they make are sold locally and others taken to Nairobi. The group has also been visiting the sick and less fortune in the society and take them foodstuffs and clothes.

The group led by Antonella is hoping to have a home for the aged at Catholic church grounds. An initiative supported by the Karare Parish.

Lydia Lokuru

(Nchaman Environmental Group, Secretary)

Lydia is a known business woman from Scheme area. She is one of the beneficiaries of Boma project; through which she acquired training and business mentorship. She currently runs her retail shop and a small butchery.

She is also the secretary of Nchaman Environmental Group which started early this year with a group of 15 women members. The aim of the group is to plant trees and collect garbage within Scheme area as a way to conserve the environmental.

The group recently planted some 25 Mwarubaini seeds around scheme area.

Esther Nanguro Leala

(Karare Women Group, Vice chairlady)

Esther is one of the vocal and vibrant women leaders in Karare. She is well known by her nickname ‘British’. She is the chairlady for Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization in Marsabit County at Karare location level.

Esther will be remembered for being one of the first women leaders who formed Karare Women Group, the mother of all ‘women groups in Karare’. Now she is the vice-chair lady of the group with 30 members. The group has 4 rentals rooms for shops and residential. Their main activities revolve around business; she narrates of how they have given loans to parents from poor families to pay school fees.

During most of the County forums and meetings Esther has been called to represent the women of Karare. Esther is very confident and always supports women development agendas. Esther is also the vice-chairlady of Supoko women group.

Esther emphasizes on the need to have unity of all Karare women, through which they can develop. To her development has no boundaries. ‘Love for each other is paramount, if we want development; Politics and rumors are the biggest enemies of development; therefore, we should run away from them’ said Esther.

Mbaas Lechakwet

Mbaas is a renowned business lady in Karare from Lakartinya village. Mbaas is now at her 90’s. The self-made business lady started from humble beginning and now she owns her small shop. She was motivated and inspired to venture into business (selling sugar, flour and other foodstuffs) by the challenges she faced at home with children when the husband took livestock to Satellite Camps ‘Fora’ in search of green pasture and fresh water. Through the profits from her business and sometimes selling of livestock she has supported her children in payment of school fees and now all of them are working.

She has also begun doing beadwork as a complement business. Now she supports her grandchildren with pocket money as they go to school. Mbaas loves her livestock and therefore she buys medicine for them.

Mbaas encourages all women both young and old from Karare to work hard and never give up on their dreams; Learn from the challenges they go through.

Magdalene Ilimo

Magdalene is theAssistant Chief 1 for Karare sub location. The first ever female chief in Karare. She is known for her good leadership skills and the heart to serve. Through her efforts and that of the Area Chief taking of the deadly liquor (Chang’aa) was banned in the whole of Karare, this was after many lives were lost in the area due highly levels of Chang’aa intake.

Magdalene has always been on the fore front to ensure her people are not sidelined when it comes to issues to do with development mainly from the Government. Through her consultative meetings with other chiefs and leaders from the neighbouring community cattle rustling has reduced in the area. She has also met with the Karare community elders and the Morans, talk to them on the need to engage in other healthy and productive work rather than cattle rustling.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a practice common to residents of Karare. Magdalene together with other like-minded women are against the vice. They have been involved in forums and meetings in creating awareness on FGM, GBV and STIs.

Magdalene has this to say to all women in Karare ‘As women of Karare we must be independent and believe that we can make it, days are gone when men make decisions for women’’. She reiterates that women should set a good example to the society, we must learn to be teachers as well as learners’’

Lucy Lekidayo

(Mwangaza Women Sewing Group, Leader)

Lucy has a background in tailoring. Lucy was operating her small tailoring business in Karare, before joining Amuka as a trainer in 2016 to train a group of women interested with sewing. She has attended several training’s on tailoring sponsored by Amuka.

Lucy currently trains a total of 16 women from Karare on how to sew clothes, small purses, re-usable sanitary towels, knitting and the basic sewing techniques. Majority of the women have started to develop the skills in making small purses and knitting. In July 2018, the group managed to sew 24 purses (small & big) decorated with beads. All were sold out to the scouts’ team from Scotland who came to Karare. The group has 2 electric and 3 manual sewing machines, with lots of materials and equipment for sewing, knitting and crocheting all provided by Amuka Foundation. ‘Many thanks to Jan, Jane and Jacqueline for the donations of knitting, crotchet and sewing materials’ said Lucy.

For Lucy and her group this will be their ever first time to attend International Woman’s Day. The group is really excited and very much expectant! They have practiced a traditional dance which they will perform on 8th March.