Ms Salante Lebulkash goes about her daily chores with confidence at her homestead in Narasha village, Isiolo County. She is the proud owner of a goat herd, which has become a source of income for her three children.
Livestock has traditionally belonged to men in the Samburu community, but Ms Lebulkash believes that this is no longer the case, as she is now one of the few women who confidently controls this valued economic livelihood among the locals.
Women who have separated from their husbands in her community face a hostile environment and are sometimes viewed as outcasts in society.
But, for Ms Lebulkash, she has stood firm for the sake of children, societal perceptions notwithstanding and she
takes great pride in her achievements.
“My first born is in college studying tourism management and these goats provides the income needed to educate him,” she says with a tinge of pride in her voice as she milks the animals to prepare breakfast on this cold Wednesday morning.
Narrating the genesis of her separation, she says she cannot point to a specific issue that made her husband get fed
up with their marriage.
Finding herself out in the wilderness and with no moral or financial support coming from her family, she was not about to despair. Life had to move on and she was determined to move on despite the unexpected and ugly turn of events. As
he strived to feed and provide shelter for her sons, she vowed to educate all her children despite her community attaching little value to education.
“Education is the path to a prosperous future and I knew educating my children would empower them socially and give
them a bright future,” she says.
Her first born son went to a mission school at Ol Donyiro and this gave her an opportunity to start small business
like selling tea, airtime and foodstuffs during market days.
By saving the little she earned she was able to buy a goat. It is this same goat that a heard has grown and eventually Ms Lebulkash was able to put up a decent home where she is currently staying with her children. She attributes her success to a capacity building training offered by Samburu Women Trust saying it has enabled her to walk with her head held high despite a negative perception form the society.
“I wish I had gotten this training when I was young. My confidence as a single woman who has managed to bring up a family is encouraging other women in the locality and the negative perception is slowly fading out,” she says.
She has a message to other women who may find themselves in a situation similar to her. “A woman with strong self-esteem can build her own house, bring up and educate children. She needs to stand up with confidence and should not succumb to societal humiliation at any one moment”.