Monday, April 22, 2019

I have been blessed throughout my life.  A natural extension from receiving these blessing is for me to share my enthusiasm for life with others through involvement in community activities.  At the basic human level, I am concerned about improving the livelihoods of others. As a biologist, I am concerned about the environment. As a fiber artist, I gravitate towards working with weavers. 

While in the US, I spent considerable time promoting the fiber arts in the local schools and witnessed the positive transforming effect it had on the children involved. For the past ten year while living in Kenya, I have promoted improvement of the fiber arts with groups willing to change, willing to learn new techniques, to improve efficiency and willing to master tools that could help them harness their own uniqueness and creativity in rugs, cloth and baskets.   I have briefly written on my involvement with some of these groups in my BLOG.    I am including a brief description of several of these groups below. This listing will change over time, but I will remain involved even if my current foci change. If you are interested in helping these groups in any way, or would just like to learn more, please contact me and I would be more than happy to assist. 


Njabini Woolspinning and Weaving Workshop (NWWW), Aberdares, Kenya    

Njabini Woolspinning and Weaving Workshop (NWWW) was in existence for 5 years before I became involved in 2009. NWWW was the idea of individuals of by the local conservation committee, Friends of the Kinangop Plateau (FOKP). FOKP works to save the Sharpe’s Longclaw, an endangered bird species that lives in the grasslands where sheep are raised. The Njabini Woolspinning and Weaving Workshop uses of wool to make rugs, scarves and yarn from sheep that graze beside the longclaw.  The wool for this workshop provides both an additional incentive to sheep farmers to continue to raise sheep and not turn their land over to cultivation.  NWWW provides income and new skills to members of the community, most of whom live below the poverty level.  Currently, NWWW will lose its workshop within a year.  Financial assistance is needed to help save the workshop.  Go to Get Involved to learn more and help.

Ngurunit Basket Weaving Association, Ngurunit, Kenya

 This group of traditional basket weavers has come a long way from the ten old mamas who knew the basket weaving techniques in 2002.  Ngurunit Basket Weaving Association has been responsive to changes in traditional shapes and designs and is now making an effort to enter the international market in a new way. The baskets are the only source of income for most of the women in this dry area north of the Ndoto Mountains and southeast of Lake Turkana.  Currently, they are growing and learning from the help of their second Peace Corps Volunteer.  Read more under Articles.

Beacon of Hope, Ongata Rongai, Kenya

 Beacon of Hope purpose is to positively help change society from the ground up. This Center began as an HIV/Aids counseling and testing center and has expanded to a clinic as well as a training center for home based care. Additionally, the center provides adult vocational training and employment in rug making, kikoy weaving, tailoring and other handcrafts. For the very young children who would normally be left unsupervised in the slums during the day, they provide affordable education coupled with underlying moral values. They continue to support children through their higher education years. I became aware of Beacon soon after it began in Oct 2003, when it was housed in a run-down small warehouse space. Because of the group’s positive attitude towards learning and sustainability, they are  I have spent much of the past ten years deeply involved in working with cloth, rug and basketry groups in Kenya. My focus has always been to help them improve their craft and increase their production efficiency and designs. The result is greater self sufficiency and improved living conditions for those involved.   Not only a premier weaving teaching center in Kenya, but also now have new facilities and a production unit.  I can honestly say Beacon is truly a success story.  

Pangani Lutheran Children Center, Nairobi, Kenya

Pangani Lutheran Children Center educates 150 girls and currently houses 21 girls in their safe house. These girls would normally slip through the cracks in Kenya, victims to abuse and poverty.  Pangani Weaving Nairobi (PAWENA) is their weaving workshop that helps provide money needed for the education of these girls.   Stoles and scarves have been their main income generating pieces.  I have been involved with them since 2007. 


All of the groups listed do one or more of the following: spinning, weaving cloth, weaving rugs, weaving baskets, and felting.   I truly believe that everyone has something unique to offer others.   I hope to hear from you.   Janice



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