Samuel Siriria Leadismo
Founder and Director
“I’m originally from Samburu County, Kenya, from the Samburu tribe, Black Cattle clan. The Samburu tribe is nomadic – moving from one place to another with their livestock searching for greener pastures.
When I was 25 years old my mother developed throat cancer. I cared for her during the last year of her life. During this period we shared many things.
She told me growing up poor, of herding goats as a child, and an early marriage. I knew her to be a deeply caring person and a strong, positive presence for not only her own children, but for all the children in the village, boys and girls.
I learned from our conversations how much she wished she could have gone to school and to pursue a path of education so that she could have done more with her life and for others.
During her last year, she shared with me her dream. She asked me to guide my younger sisters, to educate them, and to fight for the right of all girls to enjoy the opportunities and life my mother didn’t have.
It is not easy for a warrior to learn this lesson and fight for the rights of girls. I am proud of myself, our community, and of the work we are able to do through The Pastoralist Child Foundation.
I’m a role model, advisor, and counselor in our villages, always encouraging my fellow youth to continue their education. I’m working against early marriages and female genital mutilation (FGM) by actively promoting childhood and adult education amongst my community members. I attained a higher Diploma in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Zetech University. I’m a proud dad of a 5 year-old daughter.
One of the things I love most about being a dad is watching my child put to use the lessons that I’ve taught her. I feel so proud of my daughter when she does the little things without anyone telling her to do them – things such as helping clean up the house at the age of five, or just saying “please” and “thank you.” When that happens – and I don’t have to tell her, I know she has learned that lesson for life. She can make me cry when I have to go out of town for work.
My favourite thing about being a father is that I can work hard every day to leave this world a better place for my daughter and the community I work with. Being a dad softens my heart, and makes me instantly more accountable and responsible to the world around me.
My dad is a polygamist and lived far from us, so it was my mother who influenced my life the most through kindness, compassion, integrity, calmness even in the face of extreme challenges, passion for life, humour, and unconditional love. During my mother’s last year, she asked me to guide and educate my younger sisters, and to fight for the right of all girls to enjoy the opportunities she didn’t have. I am proud of myself, our community, and the work we do through Pastoralist Child Foundation.
Two other women have also influenced my life. One is Blake Valin, an American woman living in Florida. I met her when she visited Kenya in 2005. She taught me how to be patient, understanding, and to fight for what I believe in. She paid all my high school and university fees, and helped my family. She taught me to never give up!
The other is Sayydah Garrett, the Founder and President of Pastoralist Child Foundation, who gave me the confidence to found our organization. We sponsor girls in high school, and offer community workshops to end FGM and child marriages. We also teach about teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, self-awareness, self-esteem, sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence, sanitation, and the importance of formal education here in Kenya.”