After having worked almost nine years with Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) in Kenya, I decided to join the Coalition as the Community Resource Exchange Regional Facilitator, to work with local communities confronting development projects and international investments in Africa.
I am a trained community organizer who loves working with diverse people. Although I have never focused on international finance institutions before, I believe this position will give me an opportunity to venture into this new field and learn new things, while building strong community networks and continuing to support those promoting and protecting their collective and individual rights.
Prior to joining the Coalition, I was working for the Defenders Coalition, the only national organization in Kenya that works primarily for the protection of HRDs in the country, and that also supports defenders in the East Africa region. As the Director of programs within the Defenders Coalition, I connected HRDs at risk with partners locally, regionally and internationally to get the support they needed. I also launched the Protection working group that brought together all civil society organizations working to protect HRDs so they could better coordinate among themselves without duplicating their efforts, and I initiated community networks to enhance collective safety and security of HRDs.
When I look back at the organization I have left behind, and the journey it took to turn it from a small project into a fully-fledged national organization, I feel inspired as I know that the Community Resource Exchange (CRE) pilot project can also grow. It will become a big project that will build powerful networks of communities who collaborate with each other in protecting their rights against development projects supported by financial institutions.
As a community organizer, I know how strong is the power that lies within communities, although it is often untapped. It is this belief that guides me and each day when I wake up I ask myself: “Who will defend the defender?” Together with partners and allies, who believe in the same causes that defenders are fighting for, every day I strive to support defenders and local communities.
The passion I have for my work, and the inspiration I get when I see successful communities’ struggles, makes me want to do more and more. I dream of a world where respect for human rights is a way of life. I dream of a world where women are always present at the tables of decision-making. I dream of a world where communities are consulted when decisions touching on their lives are being made. And I will work to turn this dream into reality.
Salome Nduta’s bio
Salome Nduta worked as the Director of programs at the Defenders Coalition, an organization supporting human rights defenders at risk not just in Kenya, but also more widely in East Africa.
She was in charge of the program on protection of HRDs but also worked as a researcher, conducting for instance research on the challenges faced by women human rights defenders in Kenya or by defenders working on extractives.
She is an alumni of the Global Change Leaders programme of the Coady Institute in Canada, and she has created a program for WHRDs that focuses on developing knowledge to meet the unique needs of WHRDs and marginalized groups.
She sits on the board of trustees of Haki Africa, a human rights organization working in the coastal region of Kenya that works on countering violent extremism.
In 2018, she was the winner of the inaugural Scottish Bar International Award for human rights defenders, an initiative of the Faculty of Advocates, in Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2021, she was also awarded the highly recommended women in governance award by Governance New Zealand Inc.
To get in touch with Salome, write her at: email@example.com