We are all shocked and deeply saddened to share the news that one our beloved team members, Joan Seleyian, passed away in December from a short and sudden illness.
Joan’s friendly manner, infectious laughter, and deep commitment to improving the communities around Amboseli made her one of those rare individuals who was adored and respected by everyone she met.
Joan excelled in school and could have chosen any career path, but found her calling working for Big Life’s Health Department, where she helped dispel the many myths and misunderstandings around sexual health that abound in rural communities.
She was passionate about her work, stating: “I want to see people embrace conservation, and also understand and access primary healthcare. I also want to tackle other issues like female genital mutilation and gender-based violence.”
She understood the value of women’s sexual education and was particularly passionate about preventing teenage pregnancy, holding meetings for Maasai women which acted as safe spaces for them to share and resolve such issues.
Never one to let gender stereotypes get her down, she was the first female employee at Big Life to get a motorbike license and one of the only women in the entire region to do so. Her motivation? “Women understand better when sensitive health information is shared to them by a woman, and I can always see their confidence raised when they see me parking my bike.”
She leaves behind a husband and four young children. When the time comes, Big Life will fund the education for her eldest child. We are currently supporting her family as best we can through this painful time.
Safiri Salama, Joan. We will all miss you.
Photo: Jeremy Goss