Whenever I listen to missionaries share or watch television shows about the plights that face the continent of Africa, I am overwhelmed. So much pain, injustice, corruption, poverty, and decades of cruelty and abuse – especially to women. So many of their stories are nearly unbearable – HIV, human trafficking, losing children in childbirth due to incompetent medical care, and the complete lack of societal infrastructure that would allow so many to thrive.
I always walk away wanting to do something immediately, but fearing that it would never be enough – or the right thing – or make it to the right people.
But when I hear about people that are making a difference, on the ground, with the people, in the right places, it brings indescribable joy to my heart.
Karama is one of those organizations. It was started by one of you – a blog reader, Dyan.
Dyan and her family are currently missionaries in Tanzania, but while they were in Ethiopia, she saw the determination and drive that many so women possessed to support their families. They would do anything to provide food and education for their children, but the healthy opportunities to make a living were so few. So Dyan began to help them create beautiful items, and gave them the means to sell their creations – through the Karama website and trunk shows in the US.
This vision of Dyan’s gives women the chance for dignity – something we too often take for granted in the United States. And God has blessed her efforts – through multiple learning and crafting centers in five different African countries, women are taught skills and educated on how to support themselves and their family with their craft.
I was so excited when Dyan shared Karama’s website with me. I quickly ordered a necklace and purse, and they truly delighted me.
I bought this weekender bag, and it has made a great everyday purse/diaper bag/holder-of-all-my-kid’s-crap. The geometric print drew me in – I’m a complete sucker for line art, after all.
It’s made from thick, two-ply fabric – much thicker than similar bags I’ve bought off of Etsy, and it was less expensive, at only $35! It has a pocket on the inside, and an extra-wide, luxuriously comfortable shoulder strap that makes it feel infinitely lighter than my last purse. They have several other designs and colors that I’m now itching to add to my collection.
My purse was made by the Mabinti group, which is located in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and works to rehabilitate the lives of women who have suffered the devastation of fistula, have received surgery, and are healing. Fistula is a complication due to prolonged childbirth that leaves a woman incontinent and thus ostracizes her from her community and devastates her life.
Mabinti trains these ladies in sewing and life skills so that they can start their own business once they leave the 18-month program. After finishing the course, each woman is supplied with a starter kit containing a sewing machine, scissors, beading tools and a supply of fabric and beads.
I also bought a zulugrass beaded necklace in a beautiful dark periwinkle mixed with many other hues of blue, purple, and pink.
I am crazy about the beads, but my favorite part of this necklace is that it’s adjustable from 13” to 30”. I’m constantly trying to find the correct length of necklaces for different necklines, but this one takes all of the work out of it – I just adjust until it’s perfect and go.
My necklace was created by the Leakey Collection, which is employing Maasai women in rural Kenya to make these beautiful products from repurposed materials.
Karama represents over 25 groups of artisans, and many of the groups consist of physically disabled or HIV+ ladies. But all of the groups are employing marginalized individuals in need of sustainable work. The artisans are then able to feed their families and send their children to school through the work they receive.
Karama’s creations would make fantastic gifts for Christmas and Birthdays, because you’re gifting the recipient and women and families in Africa. But I have found that it takes a lot of the guilt out of buying for myself, too – because after all, I’m helping someone else!
I have also bought two $50 Gift Certificates for Karama products to give away to two of you. If you’d like to enter, this one’s easy: just visit Karama’s site, then come back and tell me one item that you loved.
Also, Karama has given me a coupon code to share with all of you – use “OBJECTIVITY” to get free shipping! I’ll also add this graphic to my sidebar for easy locating later.
Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for this giveaway, and bought the prizes myself in order to support this ministry. Karama is fantastic and I highly recommend that you check it out – that includes you, FTC!