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Roseline Orwa

Nationality: Kenyan
Living in: Nairobi, Kenya
Twitter: @roselineorwa
Facebook: @ronafoundation @roseline.orwa

Founder, Rona Foundation


Roseline is a gender expat and a social entrepreneur. She is a celebrated widow activist, a poet, a correspondent writer with Modern Widows Club's online magazine, and a TV talk show host. She is a mentor whose work is replicated across Kenya, and a life skills coach. Roseline serves as an appointed Commissioned Expert with the Ministry of Labour and Social Services. She holds a Diploma in Printing and Graphic design from the Technical University of Kenya, and is a graduate in Public Relations and Communication from Daystar University. She also holds a postgraduate diploma in Project Management and Innovation.

Roseline is a Fellow of Amani Institute for Social Innovation Management and has trained with National Democratic Institute for Leadership and Political Negotiations for Advocacy. She has been a front runner nominee for NGO Diaspora Awards 2015 in Texas USA. She was a front runner nominee for Giraffe Heroes Kenya Awards 2015, and was a semi-finalist for Global Pluralism Award in Canada 2017. She has been nominated for the Yvonne Herbert Program under the UN Women in 2018. She serves as CEO and Founder of Rona Foundation.

Roseline is a childless mother to 26 orphaned children, and runs a community centre that supports widows and orphans. She is born again, and devoted in service to God.


Personal Statement

Having lived through ostracisation I know abuse, stigma, and rejection, since women like me, culturally, have no value except humiliating names. Because we are a society ruled by culture, and culture enslaves, even the educated. Widows therefore remain invisible, afraid, and with no support or opportunities, but endure daily harmful cultural practices in abject poverty. With more than four million widows in Kenya seeking recognition, acceptance, protection and resource allocation, I believe there is space for innovation, creativity, and empowerment with the millions of rural widows left behind. I am interested in social justice and empowerment for the rural widows, and creative ways to overcome harmful cultural practices and beliefs, without necessarily losing community identities, but in a way that the widows can be partners in progress, have improved livelihoods, and become change makers with applicable laws to protect them.

I am dreaming of educating a percentage of men, cultural opinion leaders, church elders and elected leaders from my county so that they can influence policy that works, as well as men cleansers/inheritors to be protectors and not perpetrators, so that rural widows can be change makers who recognise their rights and dignity. And more importantly, make better choices.

Because I have founded and run a community centre that supports widows and orphans in a rural village, I wish to acquire much needed skills for creating a sustainable project, with proper people skills in a constantly changing environment, where vulnerability and poverty wears a widow’s face, and in doing so, transform attitudes and behaviours for ordinary rural widows. As a widow, this fellowship will break a silent personal barrier in the academic ladder for me, as an emerging woman leader.