In the words of Evana Esekon: “We’re supposed to stay home, get married and bring in the dowry. I did not agree.”


Evana Esekon, 35, is the founder of the Springs of Hope community-based organisation in Loiyangalani, Kenya. Her team of volunteers are dedicated to protecting their community’s women and girls who are exposed to high levels of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). As a child, Evana rejected her own arranged marriage and is motivated by her experience to help those going through the same.

Evana Ekeson, 35, founded the Springs of Hope organisation to protect girls from the dangers of child marriage. Photo: UN Women/Luke Horswell
Evana Esekon, 35, founded the Springs of Hope organisation to protect girls from child marriage. Photo: UN Women/Luke Horswell

icon Before I started the organisation in 2020, I went through a lot of hardship myself. I am from the Turkana tribe and Turkana girls are not supposed to go to school. We’re supposed to stay home, get married and bring in the dowry. I did not agree with that and decided to go to school. 

It turned into a feud with the family. They beat me up, but I was assisted by Catholic missionaries and my case was reported to authorities. I went to go school and while my parents accepted the fact I was getting an education, they never supported me. I was able to go to university and study and I became a teacher of Kiswahili and geography.

There are many girls that have the same problem and it hurts so much to see.  I decided to come back to start up a project in my hometown. Recently, a girl came to our office. She explained that she was married to a man that she didn’t like, and she ran away because she wanted to go to school. We needed to support her, so we first went with the girl to the police office to report the case. The officer taking the statement requested the girl to take some routine tests at the health facility. We were not sure how her parents would react, but we decided to enroll her in a boarding school and reached out to the family members to discuss the issue.

Many of these girls are ex-communicated from their homes and they are afraid to go back. But we don’t have a rescue centre. As a group, we discuss who can host the girls at their home. I currently support eight children. Resources are challenging, it is hard to support food and clothing for girls, but we are afraid of what happens when they stay with the relatives.  I always discuss school retention with teachers and monitor their progress. We need to ensure she is safe, sometimes girls can be forcibly taken from school. But She’s getting on well. At holiday times comes the next challenge to find somewhere safe for them. 

Evana is one 40 change agents in Loiyangalani that received training carried out by UN Women’s partner World Vision. She is now a trainer of trainers for other community members on reporting processes such as evidence collection and standard operating procedures. The project, supported by the Government of Finland, is equipping communities to manage SGBV cases correctly for a survivor-centred response. At the same time, the project also facilitates community outreach initiatives to prevent retrogressive practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) from occurring.