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Zuri Award Goes to Ellie Modesta, Co-founder of "Chui Mama"

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

As we celebrate the world International Women’s Day, we congratulate Eli Modesta, Co-founder of Chui Mamas Organization, as the winner of the 2022, Zuri Awards, Art and Culture Category. Zuri Awards was founded with the main aim of celebrating and supporting unsung, exceptional women, dedicated to creating positive change through work in their communities while inspiring others through exceptional displays of leadership; rising against all odds, and being courageous in the face of adversities as a way of celebrating and honoring the International Women’s Day Celebrations.

Through founding Chui Mamas and actively engaging in other community development initiatives, she has elevated revenue streams for the women across Laikipia and Samburu Counties by exposing their beadwork businesses to new markets. She has also supported the introduction of alternative revenue sources such as soap-making and the mass production of masks, clothing and accessories. The proceeds are used to cover the women’s and the community’s economical and basic needs. Her efforts have brought about significant transformation among women and as a ripple effect, positively impacting the community at large.

We are proud of the strong, courageous women of Chui Mamas. Their burning passion for building a better community is truly inspiring. Their growth is remarkable. They made the decision to stand up to the rights of women, the well-being of the Maasai and Samburu people and the conservation of wildlife in midst of a harsh Kenyan economic and environmental climate. With little to no share in national resources, the little developments made among the Maasai and other pastoralist communities stagnated as climate change caused the death of livestock due to starvation. Families opted for the outdated route, viewing women as commodities for sale in exchange for valuable resources. This immediately led to child marriages and a possible uncontrolled increase in HIV rates within the sparsely populated region with inadequate healthcare facilities. Other challenges included; infant mortality and maternal deaths, which have since reduced drastically with women empowerment, communal education and awareness.

Chui Mamas was formed to spearhead change in the community through conservation practices. The organization empowers women by identifying and implementing alternative revenue streams to support the economic needs of the community, women and girls. In addition to this, they advocate for gender equality and wildlife conservation across Samburu and Laikipia Counties. Chui Mamas was co-founded by Eli Modesta, alongside Ambrose Letoluai, also who doubles up as the kid’s conservation founder. Ambrose alongside Modesta play a significant role in advocating for women’s rights as well as conservation practices. Through conservation, she has created a sense of security and belonging within the Maasai and Samburu communities through securing and protecting communal land and its resources.

Chui Mamas, in conjunction with other members of Laikipia Conservancies Association, has since managed to re-admit 800 young girls who were initially forced out of school and subjected to genital mutilation, early marriage, child labor and teenage pregnancies. The group provides a safe space to open up about Gender-Based Violence among other challenges. It has become a home to women and girls, a sisterhood. The group has offered scholarship opportunities to over 600 girls and provided them with basic needs such as sanitary towels. In order to ensure sustainable food supply, the group has made significant strides in constructing school kitchen gardens across learning institutions in Laikipia and Samburu Counties.

“Modesta and Chui Mamas as a whole, has made Laikipia Conservancies Association and all its partners proud today. They are simply proof that the conservation systems works. Embracing conservation opens up a world of opportunities. It births a society that we have only dreamt of. A society where women are respected decision makers, there is job security, food security and our children are allowed to dream big and achieve those dreams. A community where wildlife and human beings can peacefully coexist and mutually benefit. May Laikipia and Samburu conservancies serve as an example to Africa and the rest of the world that developmental practices and conservation practices are mutually achievable and it was all done while respecting and including women.” As the world marks this significant day, we are proud of the strides our community has made in ensuring women voices are not just heard but they are part of the team that is bringing change in our society said Kip OlePolos Chairman Lakipia conservancies Associations. Let us keep clapping and encouraging our women and daughters to find their voice in our communities.

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