Monday, April 22, 2019
 Janice's Blog

Outreach and Growth - A quick, personal look at some organizations and making a difference here in Africa.

Nov 24

Written by:
11/24/2007 1:01 PM  RssIcon

There are many people and organizations who are devoted to uplifting lives here in Africa. Through my husband’s work in development through USAID, I meet and hear of so very many people in the agricultural field. USAID is very involved in most aspect of uplifting lives. is a good place to start. Under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act it is now easier for many African countries to export African made textiles to the US. More information on trade and the hubs established can be found at the African Global Competitiveness Initiative (AGCI) site: . It would be a tremendous task to list all the governments and non-government organizations, that are working to improve lives here.

Keeping it personal, we have friends who work with many church or other religious groups that make so much difference. Again, the groups abound. Our good friends, Barb and Andy Hinderlie , were based in Nairobi with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America for a few years and are now based in Madagascar. Through them, we discovered the fair trade group Manna Madagascar Barb and Andy also connected me with Pangani Lutheran Children’s Center: where I recently begun assisting their weavers with technique and efficiency. The weavers at KELC work closely with the German Lutherans here, who are supervised by Gabe Harrison-Junga. Their work, again going towards charity, consists mostly of smart rugs made with colorful knitted cotton pieces. Beacon of Hope is a non-profit groups also and are covered in depth in other articles on this site. There is also a smattering of smaller, Christian loom weaving groups throughout the country, but I have not worked with them. Most of the products from these groups are sold directly to those who support them.

No commentary on contemporary loom weaving in Kenya without mentioning Jacqueline Resley. Jacqui, a designer, came to Kenya in the 1970’s. She witnessed the training of Kenyan weavers by the Danish and Scandinavians. When they left, she agreed to take over Kenya Weaver Bird, . Jacqui has trained over 50 spinners, countless weavers, and is responsible, in a very big way, for setting high handweaving standards in Kenya. She produces original and top of the line clothing, upholstery, curtains, wall hangings and rugs, using locally handspun wool in most of her pieces. William Okello, one of those originally trained in the 1970’s, owns, with his wife Margaret, Pendeza Weavers in Kisumu, They are known for their work with fine cotton, weaving clothing, table cloths, and for their shawls made with cotton warp and handspun silk. I have fewer personal dealings with many of the multitude of other handloom weaving groups in Kenya who produce pieces from cotton rag rugs to woolen rugs to kikoys. Some of these have showrooms in Nairobi and produce on location and/or buy pieces made in the homes by local Kenyans.

It is very uplifting to constantly meet people who strive to improve their lives and/or dedicate their lives to helping others. One very present reminder of dedication to uplifting lives of others is the large presence of the UN here in Nairobi: . Two other friends, Rahmat and Nargis Ghassmi, who work with the Aga Khan Foundation : and are very committed to improving the lives of others here in Africa and around the world.  World Vision is another organization dedicated to uplifting those marginalized.  Between the beauty and poverty, the need and the giving, Kenya is a dynamic place to live and to grow.


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