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economic opportunity

The O'Brien School started the Upendo Jewelry line to the women of Sanya Station nearly 7 years ago. 

Inspired by the Maasai's longstanding tradition, skill, and love for making beautiful beaded jewelry, the O'Brien School offered trainings in working with leather, metals, and unique beads. Each piece maintains the essence of the Maasai spirit, yet incorporates modern trends so that the jewelry is timeless, traditional, and exciting to wear at any time.

Women are paid above market value for their beadwork, quality control, and project management so that they can sustain their livelihoods.

Upendo MEANS LOVE in swahili.

upendo jewelry


women's kiosk

women and girls used to walk miles to buy goods.

As a part of their duties, women and girls would have to shop for household items, cook, clean, take care of the children, walk to charging stations for their cell phones, and fetch water. Often times, shopping for goods would require women and girls to miss school or economic activities because the shops are too far away. 

This women-owned business solves a few different problems for the villagers: girls no longer have to walk miles for goods, reducing the risk of gender-based violence along the way and allowing more time for studies; women become economically empowered; and villagers have more access to basic goods.



Women learn how to install, maintain, and use life-changing stoves.

Many villagers used to cook over three-stone fires. They inhaled harmful pollutants and smoke each time they cooked a meal. Because of this, illnesses plagued the villagers—especially women and children. In addition, these fires also consumed tons of firewood (that women and children gathered) and contributed to global warming.

Women were trained by other Maasai entrepreneurs, through a partnership with the International Collaborative Maasai Stoves and Solar, and gained meaningful, life-altering employment. The result? Clean cookstoves that save lives.


maize grinding

a staple food, ugali, is primarily made up of ground maize.

Prior to the maize grinding machine business, women would often have to transport heavy maize back and forth to the nearby town (miles away) in order to grind or shell the maize before cooking.

With the new maize grinding business, villagers can bring their maize to the machine in the village. This reduces the time and money spent on traveling back and forth. In addition, this profitable business has little maintenance, but it provides the women with new skills and economic opportunity.


hair salon

Not only a place to maintain hygiene, it's the best place to socialize.

The Sanya Station villagers know the importance of maintaining their hygiene. Keeping hair tidy reduces the risk of lice, ticks, and mites. In addition, our salon holds the highest standards for cleanliness and sanitation, ensuring razor blades and hair cutters are clean for each individual to prevent transmission of disease.

A hair salon is also the perfect place for villagers to unwind and socialize. They often face many hardships, and a salon is a safe haven for friendly discussion, healthy debate, and productive educational awareness raising.

our special projects blog is live!

Keep up to date on the current events, projects, and initiatives launched in Sanya Station.

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