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Evalyn's Story

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Evalyn's Story

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After getting her college qualification in 2011 – a certificate for guiding – Evalyn started to work at Sirikoi, a safari camp, in Northern Kenya.

She started as a room steward then as a waiter and ended up as a spotter. In this position, she managed to hone her guiding skills and learn on the job. She attained her driver’s license, completed her bronze level national guiding exams and in 2012, she officially became a guide at Sirikoi.

Evalyn's Story

Out of 37 students across the country, Evalyn was the only female to achieve their bronze level during that exam.

Once you're a qualified guide, your details are added onto a website, and that's where Olare Lodge in the Mara, found Evalyn's details and offered her work. 

In 2013, she started at Olare Lodge and during her time there, she also studied for and attained her silver level as a guide.

In 2015, Evalyn applied for a vacancy at Naboisho Camp in the Mara, and has been there since. She was very excited to add a female to their guiding team and she's currently still the only qualified female guide in the Kenyan Camps!

 

Wildlife and Tourism Management

Currently, Evalyn is enrolled part-time at a university and studying Wildlife and Tourism Management.

In 2018, she aims to complete her gold level as a guide – there are only a few gold level guides in Kenya and she will be the first female, if she succeeds.

 

New opportunities

Traditionally, a Maasai/Samburu's woman’s place is at home – being married, raising kids, and taking care of the household and livestock. To even have the education needed to move on to tertiary education is rare.

The guiding courses are short, but extremely intense, and cover all aspects of the natural world a guide would work in: biology, geology, plant and animal studies, soil studies, and ecology. It also involves astronomy, ethical behaviour dealing with international guests, social skills, 4x4 driving skills, and first aid and mechanical knowledge.

Evalyn was very excited to add a female to their guiding team, and she's currently still the only qualified female guide in the Kenyan Camps!

Breaking the tradition

Guiding is traditionally a man’s job. It can be very physical – from changing big tyres on 4x4 land cruisers to having the basic mechanical knowledge for when you have car problems out in the bush. It also requires the skills to manage conservancies, wildlife areas, and people as well as the knowledge in business and wildlife laws. 

To get as far as Evalyn has, against all traditions and beliefs of her people, she had to be patient, strong, and had to believe in herself.

She almost gave up a few times, for instance, when she wasn't able to repair a puncture in a wheel and had no one to assist her. This was challenging in the beginning but she pushed through and taught herself how to do it.

She has been laughed at and ridiculed by men - but instead of giving up, she persevered and proved to them she can do it.

All the hardships she faced has helped her to be stronger and has taught her that it's only up to her and that she cannot depend on anyone else. It made her passionate to prove to everyone she can do it.

Changing a culture as old as hers, is a slow, step-by-step process. She believes it's important for her to set an example for other women and demonstrate that it's possible for women to be successful and to also provide for their families.

Her dream is to one day build a school or children’s home for the girls in the area that she is from, and to give girls a fair chance at a good education, even if their families refuse to help them.

Because she is from this culture, she understands the challenges that young girls face. Westerners and even the local governments do not understand the cultural barriers – but she does and this can help girls/communities to overcome them.

With her inside cultural knowledge, she saved two very young girls (age 11) from forced marriages a few years ago, managed to get them back to school and found funding for their school fees. They are now both working, one as a tailor with her own small business and the other in a hotel. Both are now able to support themselves and make their own choices in life.