By Jane Okoth
The Tsavo region, very popular with wildlife, is home to the biggest national park in Kenya and one of the largest elephant populations in the world. As a young girl living close to Tsavo East, Rebecca Mututa would encounter wild animals from time to time. “This gave me the inspiration to learn more about animals by working in a conservation organization,” she says.
Rebecca grew up in Voi, a small town 30km from Wildlife Works’ Head Office with a population of at least 50,000 people. “My passion for working hard was ignited by watching my mother struggle to put food on the table. I put a lot of focus in my studies and finally graduated with a degree in Wildlife Management at the University of Eldoret,” she says.
Thanks to her determination, Rebecca Mututa has been working at Wildlife Works as an Assistant Community Relations Officer for close to a year. Before that, she worked as a Project Manager for four years at Marungu Hill Conservancy Association, a community based organization that was partnering with Wildlife Works.
Wildlife Works’ Community Relations department plays a vital role in implementing different projects. The department directly engages communities in the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project area on conservation matters, and conducts awareness programs on different project activities carried out through carbon funding. Beyond that, they also respond to community grievances and acknowledgements as well as receive proposals for projects to be potentially funded through the carbon income.
Rebecca’s major focus is on girl and women’s empowerment programs. Women and girls in the Kasigau Corridor play a major role in the achievement of economic and environmental changes in their societies. Wildlife Works, through the Community department, supports these women by empowering them in different programs. “We help create awareness in the community, especially to women and girls, about Wildlife Works REDD+ project, engage in motivational speaking and also ensure community data is up to date,” she says.
Rebecca and her team conduct girl and women’s empowerment programs in community meetings known as barazas, targeting schools and women and youth groups across our project area. The program discusses issues such as early marriages, gender-based violence, HIV AIDS and financial literacy. In schools, girls are taught how to make reusable sanitary towels, and also educated on sex and reproductive health.
“One of my biggest accomplishments while working at Wildlife Works has been using my passion and skills to empower women and girls as well as promote a culture of conservation in the community,” she says.
Apart from gaining valuable skills, working at Wildlife Works has enabled Rebecca to educate her siblings and financially support at least 10 members in her family. “I also get satisfaction when I witness the lives of rural communities positively change as a result of the REDD+ project,” she says.
According to Rebecca, Wildlife Works has brought a huge change to the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project community through educational bursaries, construction and renovation of schools and building of water projects. “My wish is to see this project expand for everyone to understand the benefits of conserving our environment,” she concludes.
We are proud to have Rebecca and her team working in one of the crucial departments at Wildlife Works. We thank her for her work.