Maasai women living in rural Kenya are working hard to provide an education for their children. Maasai are famous for their beadwork and the PCDA group’s products are exceptionally fine. Featuring an assortment of bracelets, earrings, rings and key fobs, your shopping can begin and end here! Driving through the country side, one can frequently see groups of women sitting under acacia trees working on their leather and bead projects. These beading techniques have been passed down from generation to generation and are a true expression of Maasai culture.
PROJECT VISION The Pastoral Community Development Alliance (PCDA) envisions a healthy and culturally united Maasai community with the capacity to ensure livelihood security and poverty alleviation for all of its members – men, women and children.
PROJECT MISSION Maasai women sell traditional jewelry on the side of the road near their community. As their mobile marketplace is no more, Tuko Pamoja has teamed with these women to introduce their wares in the United States. They use the income for school fees and clothes, which is especially helpful during the drought years when the cows die (selling cattle is how they pay for tuition).
Gloria was born and raised in a place called Insinya where she attended school through primary education. She was later married to her husband Samuel and moved to live with her husband’s family. She has five children, and also takes care of her younger brother who lives with her and her family.
Gloria's day to day work involves attending to her children, her family’s goats and cows, and her household duties. While Gloria has many responsibilities, her main priority is to make the time to attend women's groups, and she considers this activity to be her greatest responsibility to her family. Through women's groups she is able to earn and sometimes even save money that she uses to support her family. She uses her income to buy her children clothes, food, and to pay for their school fees. Women's groups, she says, are her only source of income.
She is grateful to Tuko Pamoja for providing women in her group an income to support themselves and to pay for school fees. She says that without Tuko Pamoja many women from the group would be forced to sell their beadwork at prices that barely cover the costs of the beads. With Tuko Pamoja and from the profits they acquire, women are able to buy food for their children and sometimes even pay for school fees, making a better quality of life for her family. More than anything, Gloria says Tuko Pamoja gives them hope for the future.
Elizabeth was born at mile forty six in 1964. She has two brothers and two sisters. She completed Form two in her village
Elizabeth is married with four children, three boys and one girl. They are 28, 23, 19, and 14. She is a business woman and she owns a small shop in Kiserian where she sells her bead work.
The biggest challenge for Elizabeth and her family is drought and access to water. She wants her kids to get the best education and good jobs so that they can be able to support the community since she is growing old.
Elaina was born in Olipesi and is one of seven children. She has four sisters and two brothers, and they all live in different villages now. Her mother is still alive and lives in Olipesi. Growing up Elaina received no formal education.
Elaina’s husband was selected for her by her father. Samuel Sonchikai and Elaina have three children; their oldest is son Kayiok. He is 26 and is in college. Their daughter, Katatei, is 23, received no education but is now married. Their youngest is daughter Naipanoi, who is 18. She also did not attend school but is now married. Both of Elaina’s daughters have moved to different villages with their husbands.
Elaina relies on the income from selling her beadwork to support her family, as Samuel has no job. She hopes that her son will get a job soon so that he can help take care of them. She hopes that in the future she will have a place to sell her beads and her family will be better off.
Josephine was born in 1980 in Enkereyian. She was one of seven children; she has three brothers and three sisters. Her mother still lives in Enkeryian, but her father passed away at the age of 75. Josephine completed college level education and specialized in general agriculture.
Josephine married Daniel Maseker seven years ago; he is the head master of the primary school. Together they have one son and two daughters: son Ezra Sepeina is three; Victoria Resiato is five; and Debra Sayiato is two.
To supplement her husband’s income, Josephine beads jewelry and accessories in the traditional Maasai style. She is also a PCDA community mobilizer for women’s work.
The biggest challenges for Josephine’s family are common for many pastoralists. They struggle during times of draught because it can take all day to find water for family and animals. The markets are also unreliable, so she is not always able to sell her beadwork. She hopes that in the future she will be able to improve life for family, and to provide her children with an education.
Josephine hopes Tuko Pamoja and other market opportunities will continue to support her beadwork sales.
Rebecca was born on June 9, 1969 in Ilmasin, a village near Kiserian. She has five brothers and three sisters, and they all still live in Ilmasin as does her mother. Rebecca earned a college degree in early childhood education and is helps with translating for Tuko Pamoja and the other PCDA women.
Rebecca’s father selected her husband, Simon Nchoki, who is now 57. Together they have five children. Reuben, their oldest son, is 24 and is a teacher. Timothy, their second son, is 22 and studies at university. Their youngest three are all girls. Beatrice is 14 and finished Class eight; Catherine is 10 and in Class six; and Evalyne is four and in preschool. She lives with Rebecca’s mother in Ilmasin.
Simon is a pastor, but currently does not have a job. Rebecca supports the family through the sales of her craft work, mainly jewelry. In order for her to reach the market or the bus station it requires a long walk. They are also caring for their nieces while the mother is in the hospital.
The biggest challenges for the family are lack of water and work. They often have to sell some of their cattle in order to have enough money for food and school fees. Sometimes to make a little extra money they purchase sugar in Kiserian and then resell it in the valley at a higher price. Rebecca explains the responsibilities of a Maasai woman: she has to make the house, fetch firewood, look after the children, and sometimes even care for the cattle. She used to be able to put aside some money to help someone else start their bead business, but now she barely earns enough to cover the costs of her own materials. Maasai men are primarily responsible for watching the cattle, and the women tend to the rest.
Rebecca hopes that her children can get educated and return hope to help the family.