The Leafa* people are a group of hunter-gatherers. In recent years, however, conservation laws have come in that now protect a range of wildlife species which for centuries were key sources of food for the Leafa community. The government has encouraged a move towards subsistence agriculture and a settled lifestyle.
Some Leafa men now work in labouring jobs, but most still prefer to live in remote rural areas and survive with little money. Losing the right to hunt threatens their whole lifestyle and culture, and they have little to fall back on. They also live in an area of Kenya which is often subject to militant violence. Travelling is dangerous, and during the rainy season, the few tracks that serve as roads become soft mud, capable of carrying only traffic by foot.
Life can often be difficult for the Leafa people. They have little access to education, struggle to make a living and remain largely cut off from the rest of society. Most Leafa profess a faith in which they believe in one god, and have a sacred spot set aside as a place of prayer. They also consider themselves to be cursed and have low expectations of life.
Prior to 1996, the Leafa language had never been written down. People value their language and were eager to see it in written form. After many years of language development work, an alphabet and dictionary have now been put together and good relationships with the community have been established, providing the basis for Bible translation and literacy work.
A local team is now working to translate the New Testament into Leafa and establish a community-based literacy programme. They are also working to find ways to safely distribute Scripture, with the hope that the Leafa community will be transformed spiritually, socially and economically. Although the team has been forced to relocate away from the community due to security issues, they continue to persevere and make progress.
*name changed for security reasons
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