As we head into 2024 full of optimism following excellent rains, we want to let our supporters know about two tragic events at the end of last year that affected everyone at Big Life deeply. Two unique members of our team, Corporal Agnes Sopilal and Community Health Project Officer Joan Seleyian, passed away following short illnesses in late November and early December. Both women were genuine trendsetters whose lives and careers challenged the gender stereotypes of the communities they worked in.
We want to dedicate a post to each of them.
Agnes Sopilal really did buck the trend. She was our first female ranger. Since joining Big Life over a decade ago in 2013, she has paved the way for 15 other women to follow in her capable footsteps.
Through her work, she helped prevent human-elephant conflict, combatted poaching, and responded to emergencies in her community. Through her salary earned as a ranger, Agnes was able to build a house for her mother and pay for the education of her siblings, demonstrating that women in Maasai society can be the breadwinners and have jobs traditionally viewed as being solely for men.
Agnes was a role model for women and girls in her community, and Big Life will continue to honour her legacy. In a fitting tribute, her beret and ranger boots were placed on top of her casket during her funeral, and she was given a full send off by her fellow rangers, male and female alike.
As she said herself: “There are no male or female rangers. We are all rangers. Everything men can do, we as women can do as well.”
Rest in peace, Agnes.
Photo: Josh Clay