Samburu County, Kenya
Kristen Kosinski worked in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles for years, but in 2005, she left that world behind when she traveled to Kenya in pursuit of a lifelong dream: communing with, learning from, and facilitating the empowerment of African women. What she found was mutual inspiration.
Kristen started her journey in Samburu County, located in the former Rift Valley Province of Kenya, which is named after the word butterfly in the Maasai language in reference to the colorful adornments worn by Samburu people. Kristen immediately connected with a respected local woman, Mariamu Lekwale or “Mama Mussa,” who worked with women’s groups throughout the county. Together, they set out on a safari like no other, traveling throughout Samburu, moving from village to village, meeting hundreds of women. During those weeks, Kristen heard over and over and over again that Samburu women have no access to clean water, and the constant quest for water affects every aspect of their lives.
Learning about this relentless struggle first-hand inspired Kristen to launch The Samburu Project, an organization that aims to help the communities of Samburu grow, learn and thrive by delivering access the clean water. Together, Kristen and Mama Mussa drilled the Samburu Project’s first four wells before Mama Mussa passed away in 2007. Kristen pushed through this loss, and the Samburu Project has continued to deliver on its promise of water access. With clean water, the families of Samburu can grow their own food, girls can go to school, and women are able to empower themselves through small businesses. The Samburu Project has brought the community not only water, but a hope for a better future.
In 2008, MNSF began its relationship with Kristen and the Samburu Project to support their efforts to build drip irrigation farming systems in villages throughout the county. Our first grant providing for the purchase of a generator that would power the irrigation system for one of Samburu’s most active women’s collectives, the Milimani Women’s Group. We later awarded their team another grant to implement a second farming initiative in a nearby village. We are also proud to have participated in the Samburu Project’s “Face of Water” exhibit, a traveling photography exhibit that showcases photos of the project in action and raises awareness about the critical importance of access to clean water.