We buy the fresh aloe vera leaves we use in our newly formulated Charity Pot from six Maasai Women’s Aloe Groups, part of the Kenya Permaculture Centre.
The Maasai people of Kenya are pastoralist. Cattle rearing is their main source of income and is traditionally done by men. During times of drought, the men move from one place to another in order to find suitable pastures for their cattle whilst the women and children remain at home. Due to the harsh realities they face, Maasai women group together for support, creating powerful and caring relationships with one another. They spend their days creating beautiful beadwork and burning wood for charcoal to sell for food.
The region of Laikipia is very arid due to deforestation and consequently extreme soil erosion. There is now realisation amongst the women that the cutting of trees is fuelling increased soil degradation and consequently crop failures. When the threat of starvation looms, due to extreme drought and therefore no vegetables being available, their diet consists of sour milk and blood from cattle. Life expectancy for the women averages 45 years.
This situation inspired the women to create an alternative source of income and food security. This is how The Nabulu Women’s Aloe Group was initiated. This is one of six Aloe groups which the SLush Fund is supporting in Laikipia.
The Nabulu (meaning ‘to grow’) Women’s Group is formed of twenty Maasai women between the ages of 25 and 40. The women meet twice a week and learn to read, write and speak Kiswahili. This gives them the opportunity to grow as a group and as individuals, gaining strength and courage to create a shared sustainable livelihood. During this time, they experimented with creating Aloe based cosmetics, selling them at the local market.