As a young Samburu girl on the semi-arid lands of Laikipia in northern Kenya, Jane Putonoi could not shake the deep-rooted feeling that she had to serve her community. After witnessing time and time again the irreversible effects of traditional cultural practices like early marriage and female genital mutilation on her friends, relatives and other young girls in the community, Jane fast realized that education was her only sure avenue to achieving her goal.
When AWF helped the women of Kijabe Group Ranch start up a financial services organization back in 2009, little could we have predicted the immense impact the bank would have on the entire community. In 2007, we’d helped open The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille, a high-end lodge that provided community employment and income, after the community had set aside some communal lands for conservation.
After this brief return to Nairobi, George, Theo, and I were then sent out to the Samburu Heartland (also in Kenya but located north of Nairobi). This held a special interest for me as I visited this area on a short safari six years ago and fell in love with it. In fact, when I returned to England after that first visit was when I started learning basic Swahili (which turned out to be a fairly good move, all things considered).