15 years ago One Horizon was founded with the aim to provide the means and the stepping stones for marginalised communities in Kenya to overcome poverty, with one key underlying element – sustainability. As the saying goes – “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime;” sustainable development embodies this principle and One Horizon has sustainable development at the core of their mission.
One Horizon has always believed that connecting people with local communities would play an important role in reaching their sustainable development goals, and so focused on the concept of sustainable tourism amongst other things. In 2011 they commenced their signature experiences – holidays that have positive social, economic and environmental impact.
When it comes to sustainability, there are actually three pillars to consider: environmental, economic, and socio-cultural. Tourism has to be sustainable in all three areas to truly be considered “sustainable” tourism. A compound of these three pillars often sees tourism play a positive role in uplifting communities, and helps to avoid the negative impacts that can arise from tourism such as environmental degradation and cultural inappropriateness.
One Horizon is a vehement advocate against slum tours, the incarceration of children in orphanages and anything which hints at the exploitation of people. Instead, their experiences focus on the simple connection made over a home-cooked meal. Through culturally immersive experiences like this, travellers become part of One Horizon’s community of women, the elderly, the Maasai and the youth.
The Maasai Community and the work of One Horizon
The Maasai are the 10th largest tribe in Kenya and are around 1.4 million in population. One Horizon’s work in the Maasai community is primarily focussed on women’s development, a complex and delicate matter in Maasai tribes.
As the world becomes more interdependent, coupled with the technological advances infiltrating remote communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, Maasai women have had to grapple with how they accelerate activism in their community without offending or disrespecting their peers. The Maasai are bound together by ancestral links and there is a strong focus on conformity. When a woman challenges established norms it can disturb the harmony of the community and the woman may likely suffer as a result of her activism. Change must be managed very carefully. One Horizon’s peer support programs help to advance positive societal change by encouraging women in the community to meet as a collective and discuss timely issues and strategies for development within their own communities. This could mean discussing something as crucial as effective ways to stand up against the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision.
The places where these discussions are often held are the women’s community centres, established with the support of One Horizon. The centres are a safe space for conversation, as well as education. Women can choose to participate in vocational and lifestyle training to learn skills such as banking, loaning and land ownership – skills that can aid women to support their families. Women make up close to 52% of all wage earners in Kenya, in a community where the unemployment rate is estimated to be near to 40%. With no social security safety nets, women are often left to carry the role of providing for their entire families. The women in the program seize the opportunities to be part of these initiatives which can often significantly improve their livelihoods. To date, over 70 women and their families are leading lives free of the stress of hunger and grinding poverty, and the centres remain a place of hope, happiness and laughter.
One Horizon’s ‘Empowering Mothers’ tour is an uplifting day spent with an inspirational group of Kenyan women, learning about women’s development, visiting one of the centres and taking in local sights such as the eclectic Ngong Road markets.
Grandmas and the work of One Horizon
Perhaps of all the 50 or so programs managed by One Horizon the most prolific of these, in terms of its impact on people, is the pig farming program for grandmas.
Kenyan grandmas often care for their extended families, and this can include raising their orphaned grandchildren. A small farming business can provide much-needed income and education as a means to become self-sustainable. The United Nations recognises pig and chicken farming among the most successful small-scale enterprises for people in marginalised, developing communities.
Coming through a peer support program, before graduating into the 14-month pig training program, the grandmas become budding entrepreneurs in their seventies.
One Horizon’s wittingly named “Go Granny Go” tour takes visitors on a heartwarming walk through some of the pig farms to meet these entrepreneurs, whose lives have been impacted by opportunity.
Award-winning Sustainable Tourism
One Horizon recently received what it considers to be the ultimate compliment from the Kenya Tourism Board. Their ‘Connect with Kenya’ tours were included in KTB’s Signature Experience Collection for 2020 -21 because they offered unique, exceptional and authentic travel experiences that aided sustainable development.
One Horizon’s tour experiences for travellers are intimate, thought-provoking and moving. Participants come to realise that poverty can be solved in a sustainable manner and leave feeling as though they have individually played a part in helping families stay together.
Development in the midst of COVID
Support to the projects that One Horizon facilitates occurs via the fees that are paid to attend their tours and in ongoing donations from members. Since travel has become restricted, anyone who is interested in supporting their cause can do so by making a purchase through their online store. And once borders open up again, perhaps a visit to Kenya is on the cards.
God bless One Horizon and your guests who visit us – you have changed my life. – Helen, Kenyan Grandma
This post was a collaboration between The Altruistic Traveller and One Horizon. It does not contain affiliate links.