The Women's Journal

From Delaware To Kenya, Women Have Hope

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By Paula Persoleo

Newark native Joyce Tannian has been a bridge between women in Delaware and Kenya for the last seventeen years. She is the Director and Co-Founder of Water is Life Kenya (WILK), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit which began as a way to alleviate the burden of fetching water on women and their daughters in the Maasai tribe. Since its formation in 2007, WILK has expanded to support even more Maasai women in Kenya.

WILK’s newest program, Hope for Widows, is designed to help the poorest, most marginalized women develop self-sufficiency and, perhaps more importantly, self-confidence. This program supports widows by providing training in business skills and grants of cash and goats. It began in 2022 and has already transformed the lives of more than 50 widows.

One woman, Koyiaso, turned her life around after participating in the Hope for Widows program. She’s 45, has four children, and lost her husband four years ago. Whenever you see her, she’s carrying a big load of textiles and clothing which she sells from village to village. From the profit she earns through her business, she buys food and pays school fees for her children.

Koyiaso said, “Before I joined WILK’s Hope for Widows program, I was shy. I felt hopeless. Now I have ideas and can talk in front of people. I am able to make a profit and manage my business. I am known as a business lady, where before people would avoid me because I had nothing.”

Without resources or opportunities, Maasai women manage to provide for their families without reassurance or reward. These programs—and the hundreds of Delmarva women who support them—help them to believe in themselves again.

Though the world is messy, Joyce’s commitment reminds us that hope is still possible, both for Kenyan women and for us. Along with WILK’s other transformative programs (Clean Water Projects, Livestock as a Business, Beaded Handicrafts), Joyce and her team help Maasai women uplift themselves, provide for their families, and remember the strength they’ve always had.

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