Thanks to a generous gift from the Segal Family Foundation, BOMA has been able to hire and train a Village Mentor and launch businesses in the Archers Post area of Northern Kenya. The region is adjacent to Samburu National Reserve and so, for the first time, visitors and donors to BOMA are now able to see our work without having to charter a plane or endure a 10- to 14-hour road trip to the far northern region where we work. We can now arrange for friends to visit the Samburu villages that we work with and then return to comfortable tourist accommodations – tented camps or lodges – in dramatic Samburu Reserve.

The BOMA business women of Kiltamany village escort the Dining for Women visitors to a dry riverbed.

After breakfast and a leisurely morning game drive, our donor group, Dining for Women, traveled to Kiltamany village. Our journey took us away from the main feature of Samburu, the Ewaso Nyiro River, and as we wandered through the dense scrub the landscape dramatically changed. We left green bushes and palm trees behind, climbing away from the river into much higher and arid terrain. Despite the heat, windows remained rolled up as gray dust billowed from the back of each vehicle. Turning up a final hill we rounded a bend and were greeted by a chorus of the BOMA business-owning women. All of them were draped in their finest red-print cloths. The encircling bands of colorful beaded necklaces were spectacular.  Maria Lesiill, our BOMA Village Mentor, was also beautifully attired in a striking blue dress and solid red drape. Her headpiece accentuated her beautiful face and big smile. This was a proud moment for Maria.

Kura Omar, BOMA’s Operations Director, explains our grants-based program of training and mentoring for the women in Kiltamany village.

Our group assembled in a line, cameras in hand, as the singing women came forward in pairs to greet us. “Supa!” they called as each pair nodded their heads to the side in a traditional greeting. Some of the visitors caught on, and greeted them with head dips of their own.  The BOMA women then grabbed the hand of each of our guests as we walked toward the shade of a dry riverbed.  There, Kura provided an explanation of our grants-based model of training and mentoring and Sarah described our savings program and the lockboxes.

The most dramatic moment came when some of the women talked about the impact the program has had on their lives. Ngarayana Lebasiele was the most animated. As Kura translated, she told us, “We are all from one creator – no matter the color of your skin. It is you that come to visit us and now you see how strong we are. We can earn money so that we can educate our children and then they will come to the U.S. and visit you.”

Based upon the tears of our visitors, I would say that we made a good impression.