Thursday, 18 August 2016

Next part of the project

It is interesting, as I start the teaching part of my stay here, to reflect that this was my first idea and reason for coming to Kenya again - to teach the women to make some of the things I have been making. The vision has become so much bigger than that, but it was good to also do this part of the work.

Our day - all six of us - began with two separate taxi rides to Utange. We did think of using a Tuktuk as well as Zachariah's taxi, but Zachariah so needs the work that we went just with him. Frances, Will and I surprised Florence by arriving half an hour earlier than she expected, but we explained the reason. Inside the room I found this lovely welcome:

The ladies arrived in "African time", but we made a great start on cutting out various animal and bag patterns, with some ladies starting the sewing. 

It was clear that the concept of seeing patterns was new to most of them, but they rapidly picked it up. 

It was disappointing to find that the sewing machine did not work properly - it seems that the feed dogs are not pulling the fabric through - so I will be taking it into Mombasa tomorrow to try to find the shop and get them to sort it out.

Some of the ladies also worked on their crocheted bags - these are made from old bags which are cut into strips.

In the meantime, Will took lots of photos and got to know the locals while Phil started interviewing the ladies, one by one. The plan is to produce a short fact sheet about each of them, to accompany the things they make.

Phil also talked in detail to three of the ladies about micro finance, and they were very keen. His plan is to arrange a meeting for them with the government official he met on Monday so that they can get this set up. That was a very pleasing result.

We returned for a short break at the hotel (just long enough for a cup of tea for me) - and, while sitting enjoying this, one of the gardeners (Peter) gave me a beautiful pot of flowers, my second during this trip. So lovely!

It was time to set out again, this time using Wilson with his tuktuk, to visit Bombolulu centre. This is an amazing place. It is a centre where people with physical disabilities make, from scratch, the most fantastic items.
Outside, workers were carving wood and bone into beautiful jewellery - all kinds of wonderful items. 

In the jewellery workshop, we saw the process of them making necklaces and other metal items by hand. First the designers

Then fashioning the links using an ingenious contraption base on a drill

Pressing patterns into the brass:

Cutting out the brass shapes with a hacksaw:

Joining the links together:

We saw other ladies creating the loops for earrings from wire

In the textile workshop they printed fabrics using screen prints

And sewed so many lovely items: bags, fusion covers and more.

I chatted with the designer in the textiles workshop and gave her the address of my blog, telling her about my recycling and inviting her to use any of my designs.  

We saw the workshop where wheelchairs and bicycles are built, including this amazing model which is a mobile shop. 

We went to the plant nursery, and met this lovely man:

who told us that he had planted the majority of the plants around the grounds, including an amazing bamboo tree, 30 years previously!  Ronnie was persuaded to buy some seeds and this plant, which generates itself from a single leaf.

Then we were the first customers ever to visit their new shop. The previous one burnt down last year, destroying all of their stock, and they were in the process of setting this one up.

I bought myself a lovely new handbag  -

and then met Jonny, who had made it! 

I also bought a few gifts to take home. They had a fabulous range of products and all at very reasonable prices, and Ali who gave us a guided tour was so knowledgeable. Do visit if you go to the area - or buy from them online.

Truly a highlight of this trip.


  1. Amazing to see your progress. Met you last year at Northampton umbrella fair. Keep up the inspirational work.

    1. Thank you so much for following and for commenting.

  2. Lovely to catch up this morning. I continue to be blessed by following the amazing works that you are building on each day. Great that you have people with you now . Thank you for letting me be a distant part of your adventure. Next time I'll be there ! X

    1. Thank you Michelle. I look forward to having your company next time!

  3. Thank you for the good work you do in Kenya. We at Bombolulu Workshops appreciate your visit and would be happy to have you again. Also thank you for the beautiful piece you have written about us. Cheers!