Asilia is proud to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world, and especially in East Africa, for International Women’s Day on 8 March. Throughout the month of March, we’ll be sharing stories from across our camps, offices and Positive Impact partners of inspirational women who have made a difference in their community. Be sure to follow along on the Asilia blog for a new story each week.
This week, we’ve spoken to Resian Letoluo, The Maa Trust’s Beadwork Project Manager. Resian originates from Olkinyei in Kenya. During her time working with The Maa Trust, looking at the relationship between development and conservancies, she discovered that her passion lies working with women in the Mara. As a Maasai woman herself, Resian feels an obligation to use her skills to support and nurture the women of the Mara by giving them new opportunities. For the trust’s scholarship programme she is a shining example to these children what they are able to achieve in life. To Resian, her work at the trust is not just a job, but her passion.
Why do you think The Maa Trust is important?
The Maa Trust plays a major role in the protection of the Maasai Mara ecosystem. The Trust is really doing a great job of uplifting the livelihoods of the Maasai community while at the same time protecting wildlife through a wide range of research-based development projects in the areas of education and skills, water and health and sustainable livelihoods. Such initiatives are a way of maximizing the benefits of conservation to the community for having wildlife on their land.
What is one thing you feel most proud of doing while working with The Maa Trust?
The Maa Trust genuinely lives up to its mission and commitment to support conservation through the sustainable development of communities in the Masai Mara. By increasing the benefits that local communities receive from conservation, perceptions of wildlife are improved.
The Maa Trust collaborates with the community to recognize their priority areas of need, then works together with them to identify solutions to those needs. We listen closely to what they say, consider and ask for, and focus on this rather than what the donors want to give. Through managing funds properly and ensuring that projects are developed and implemented in a sustainable way, we empower people to support themselves.
How can Asilia guests get involved and make a difference while on safari?
The Asilia family has given us wings to fly in all aspects of The Maa Trust projects. From being our biggest customer of beadwork products to sponsoring vulnerable children in our scholarship programme. Via Maa Beadwork, 574 women continue to receive work from beadwork orders primarily from Asilia. Such orders result in more income for women, which in effect helps them meet their family responsibilities, such as paying school fees for their children, buying family food, starting small businesses. While we work to maximize the benefits of biodiversity and conservation for Maasai families, the local community is able to understand and contribute to the preservation of wildlife on their land. Together, Asilia and The Maa Trust collaborate with the community by engaging them in the conservation process.
What is the best way for our guests to directly contribute or make donations to support The Maa Trust efforts?
Please visit the Empowers Africa site which houses our Asilia Giving donations platform. You can select ‘community-based project in Kenya’ to donate towards The Maa Trust’s efforts.
Who are the women you look up to and admire the most in your life and why?
My dearest mother is the person I look up to the most. She is my teacher, counsellor, role model and friend. In her lies the essence of good character, honesty and generosity. She has instilled in me a love of people as a whole and has presented advice to me in an unthinkable amount in a number of situations. Without my mother, I would not be who I am today and If I turn out to be half of the person she is, this will be my greatest accomplishment.