Yes, you indeed read it right! This village in Kenya is a no man's land. Women are the only people allowed to live in this village.
It was founded by, a Samburu woman, as a sanctuary for homeless survivors of violence against women, and young girls running from forced marriages. The women of the Samburu people do not agree with violence and the traditional subordinate position of women.
This village is an inspiration. It opens our eyes against the lengths a woman has to go to, to protect herself in this god forsaken world of ours.
Samburu culture is patriarchal and women have to face the horrors of child marriage, female genital mutilation, domestic violence and rape on an everyday basis. Umoja was founded because of this.
Rebecca Lolosoli is the matriarch of the Umoja Women's Village and an advocate for women's rights. She along with several other women, who were all survivors of violence by men, established the village in 1990.
Women who hear of the village go there to settle down and learn how to trade, raise their children and live without fear of male violence and discrimination.
They love to live a normal life
To sustain themselves, the women sell jewelry to tourists who visit them. For the purpose of housing tourists, the village leaders run a campsite a kilometer away from the village. With the money the women earned, they built a school for their children and those in surrounding villages and eventually purchased the land they live on.
Their art becomes their source of income.
The expressions are indeed a testimony to the oppression they have undergone.
They live, they nurture their children, they grow despite all.
These women are truly a force to be reckoned with. A big salute to them for their strength, their will, their courage.