Born into a traditional Masaai family, Hellen Nkuriaya was married off in exchange for cows multiple times by her father, starting at the age of nine. Hellen bravely stood up to family and community pressures in order to escape from these marriages and attend school. Her hard work and commitment were eventually rewarded with a scholarship to go on to higher education.
Now, Hellen is a fierce advocate for local women and girls, fighting for their right to be free from child marriage, free from female genital mutilation (FGM), and free to access education. FGM is a life-threatening procedure, widely considered to be a human rights violation, that has been banned in Kenya since 2011; however, it is still widely practiced in rural, tribal communities like Maji Moto. Despite advocating for the elimination of these harmful practices, Hellen also works to preserve traditional Masaai culture and is an outstanding, respected leader in her community.