CrossFit-funded collection systems are freeing Kenyan women from the burden of transporting water, allowing them to pursue education and take important steps toward equality. Marty Cej reports.
Their ambitions are the same as those of kids everywhere, but the opportunities in the Kasemeni Division of eastern Kenya are very different.
Across this 250-square-mile region, small villages of mud-walled huts and thatched roofs cluster in shallow green valleys and atop bald red clay hills that look east to the brown haze of the port city of Mombasa and the blue water of the Indian Ocean beyond.
Small patches of farmland are carved from the dense clay along the hillsides using a short, wide-bladed hoe called a jembe. The length of the handmade tool forces the workers to bend from the waist from sun-up to sundown as they swing and turn the soil. But years of experience, skill and strength allow the farmer to plant acres of corn in a day, often with a baby on her hip.
And if that baby happens to be a girl, odds are she, too, will be scratching at the earth with an Iron Age tool with a child on her own hip before she is 18. In this part of Kenya, the children are many, the schools are few, and too many ambitions, especially those of young girls, are thwarted at too young an age.
CrossFit and CrossFit affiliates have decided to take some of the burden from the backs of those who have carried it too long. Education, nutrition and clean water are this community’s biggest challenges. Now, they are CrossFit’s greatest responsibility.
“This is all about women,” says Greg Glassman, Founder and CEO of CrossFit Inc. “Every little girl is as important as every little boy. This is CrossFit making a stand for women’s rights.”