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 Janice's Blog

Beacon of Hope

May 31

Written by:
5/31/2007 2:21 PM  RssIcon


Beacon Of Hope: Edited from article from On The Beam, Vol LIII, No.5. The Weavers Guild of Greater Baltimore January Issue 2007 by Janice Knausenberger

    I continue to volunteer at Beacon of Hope, a VCT center (Voluntary Counseling and Testing center for Hiv/AIDS) in Ongata Rongai, just south of Nairobi, Kenya.  As a community service, this center makes available free training in making tapestries/rugs, making kikoys (woven on 4shaft counterbalance looms), spinning, or tailoring. After the one year of training, the participants are ready to start their own business or can do piece work for BOH.   In the 3 years I have helped, since October 2003, the weavers have really progressed in both their production and skill levels.  I work most closely with David Muchemi, the kikoy trainer, and the most experienced weavers.  I have included a photo of David teaching kikoy weaving.  David is finishing his education at night with help from BOH.

Last spring, for example, I taught them how to do basic double weaves (to prevent problems they were having when piecing 2 strips together) and basic supplemental warp weaving. They have yet to apply these techniques, but will do so when they determine the time and projects are appropriate.  What is exciting is that they are asking questions, are embracing improvements in their quality and taking ownership of their designs. You may wish to check out their site at:  

Jane Wathome, the director is very focused and inspired, as well as a good business woman. She has lots of plans for the future to lift up this community. My most recent involvements were design inspiration

and methods sessions for them and then searches with Jane for better fleeces. Fortunately, the center can now purchase better quality fleeces, but it wasn't through my help.  I have included a couple of pictures of the current facility for your interest. BOH has a day care for children in the community. Children at age 2 can be left with older children of age 5 for the entire day. The older child is responsible for starting the cook fire, finding and cooking food. This is just another aspect of the lives BOH is helping to change for the better.

  Women learning on smaller tapestry looms I suggested they use to save materials and time. The size is also less imposing to beginners.






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