Two years ago, Sammy Lekalaile, a Maasai moran from Samburu County recalls how they would raid manyattas and escape with livestock in their quest to own large herds of cattle.
But the 23-year-old says he got tired of that life, fraught with danger of being killed by rivals or anti-stock theft police who occasionally pursued them.
For the past one year, Mr Lekalaile has engaged in manual work in shopping centres as members of the pastoralist community change their lifestyle and embrace other means of earning their livelihoods.
“I desired to own hundreds of cows and one of the ways was to steal them. But I discovered if I continued that way, I would not live for long. Life is also changing and I had to look for other means of survival,” Mr Lekalaile said in an interview.
Mr Lekalaile is one of the 42 youths who benefited from a project by wildlife conservation organisation Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), dubbed Biashara Mashinani that seeks to empower the youth and women.
NRT chief executive officer Tom Lalampaa says even as they focus on wildlife conservation, NRT is also seeking ways of empowering members of the community.
“We are currently working with 3,500 households and women engaged in beadwork are churning out products that are being marketed internationally, earning them a living,” said the CEO.
Mr Lalampaa was speaking during the launch of the Biashara Mashinani project and disbursement of Sh6 million to women groups at Kalama conservancy headquarters where Samburu governor Moses Kasaine was the chief guest.
Mr Lalampaa said the organisation bought motorbikes for the youth as start up to enable them get into the transport business.
Mr Lekalaile now owns a motor bike that costs Sh110,000, an asset he would not have dreamt of possessing, and with projections of earning Sh1,000 daily, he will easily manage to repay the interest-free loan at a monthly rate of Sh5,000.
As for women, the money they get is invested in livestock trade where they buy and sell goats, and bead work.