The village was founded in 1990 by a group of 15 women who were survivors of rape by local British soldiers. Umoja’s population has now expanded to include any women escaping child marriage, FGM (female genital mutilation), domestic violence and rape – all of which are cultural norms among the Samburu.
Umoja is located in north-central Kenya in Samburu County, near Archers Post. The village is made up of manyata huts built from a mixture of earth and cow dung on an abandoned grassland. The houses are surrounded by a fence of thorns and barbed wire.
The people of the village have an objective to "improve the livelihoods of women due to rampant poverty and counter the problem of women being abandoned by their families." The village also takes in runaways or girls who have been thrown out of their households, and raises orphans, abandoned children and children with HIV. The village has also provided asylum for women fleeing violence from the Turkana District.
Umoja women support themselves and their children through their creative skills with beadwork and crafts. The village also creates income through tourism. A community centre has been built as well as a pre-school for children from the village and neighbouring areas. Other initiatives include group funds for sickness, disability and savings. Umoja provides adult education and acts as a guiding light to other women's groups in the hinterland.
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