The Color of Hope

Annual Reports: TNC Africa’s Year in Review is a big-picture annual thank you for our dedicated supporters that says, essentially, “We couldn’t do it without you. Thanks for being part of our team.” Each issue features a number of stories that, together, provide a look at the conservation progress we’ve made during the past year.

Hands cradle beaded hearts made by Northern Rangelands Trust-Tradings BeadWORKS artisans in Kenya. © Roshni Lodhia

The Color of Hope
“In northern Kenya, every color has its own story. Green is the grass that sustains all things wild. Blue is the sky, the heavens, the realm of divinity. White speaks of milk, of nourishment. Red is for blood, for life itself. These colors find their way into every BeadWORKS creation, each bangle and necklace a symbol of hope—of conservation progress and lives transformed.”

This short 2021 Year in Review story shows how women are taking the lead in conservation. Featuring Star Beaders, who train women in communities across the landscape, BeadWORKS provides an alternative livelihood that doesn’t deplete natural resources—good news for lions, elephants, and other wildlife that share the vast rangelands of northern Kenya.

“‘I now know that trees are valuable,’ says Star Beader Joyce Lelukai, who teaches others about trees and wildlife and the importance of intact ecosystems. With their new income, the women send their children to school, access health care, and help manage communal land. “Together they are designing a brighter future, one colorful bead at a time.”

Loisaba Conservancy wildlife rangers plunged into a river, in the dark of night, to save Loketu from drowning. © Katie Rowe, Reteti Elephant Orphanage

“It was late January when my plane lifted off from Nairobi, the Kenyan landscape receding below, red earth still clinging to my boots. It had been an inspiring trip, full of wildlife sightings, sweeping sunsets—and stories of conservation success. I had no idea the world was about to change.”

So begins the director’s opening letter for the 2020 Year in Review. While acknowledging the daunting challenge of a global pandemic, the letter I wrote also highlights the resilient spirit of Africa’s people, the steadfast commitment of our supporters, and the determination of our partners.

The letter—which needed to reflect the historic moment and TNC’s response to it—concluded with this reflection: “Whenever I feel disheartened, it’s the stories that give me hope. Like the story this May of an elephant calf, drowning in a swirling river, and the rangers who braved the currents, in the dark of night, to save him. Or the story of a giant bull elephant hauled, just in time, from a pit of suffocating mud—by rangers who were on the job thanks to you.

Those rangers never gave up. And neither will we. We’re in this together with our partners, supporters, and local communities. Muddy, perhaps. A bit bruised and battered. But the spirit of Africa endures—undaunted.”