Namaylana Women’s Self-Help Group: Achieving the Impossible
At the end of 2016, the Namaylana Women’s Self-Help Group received a grant to build a curio shop to sell their traditional handicrafts to tourists at the popular Samburu National Reserve in central Kenya. I am excited to share this glowing report from Sayydah Garrett, founder of their partner organization, Pastoralist Child Foundation (PCF).
This project has exceeded our expectations! The women are so proud of their store! They are business owners – something they have dreamed about for years but thought would be nearly impossible given their extreme poverty. They are so grateful to SIA for believing in their dream!
The community is also very proud of the women’s store. It is well-constructed and attractive, thanks to the SIA Grant. Children see their mothers setting the good example of being hard-working business owners. Girls see hope in having their own businesses in the future too.
Our biggest success is that we have seen women use their own personal resources – the art and handicrafts – for the benefit of their own children. The women have also begun to engage with well-wishers interested in their efforts. When Namaylana Women started the curio shop, the focus was to get scholarships for girls in Samburu and help them get a quality education like any other girl in the world. Now, the focus is expanding.
Reaching a Wider Market
The new, wider focus is about producing quality products and encouraging other women and communities to take more girls to schools. Pastoralist Child Foundation connected the women’s self-help group with different investors to help them sell their items in lodges in Samburu National Reserve, including Elephant Bedroom Camp, a very popular tent camp. In April, PCF also arranged for items to be sold at Swoon, a lovely store in Montclair, New Jersey that sells household items and jewelry made by indigenous women from around the world.
One of our challenges is that widespread illiteracy often stands in the way of progress. PCF has organized women literacy workshops which have been extremely beneficial for them. Our core intervention continues to be girls’ education. The money women earn will take more girls to school.
Apart from selling the items, the women are also excited about letting shop visitors see, learn and celebrate the Samburu cultural heritage first hand through color and vibrant collections of intricate jewelry and artifacts of the past, present and future. The women have invited other women’s groups in Samburu County to visit their shop to learn about starting their own businesses.
Women meeting with the folks at Elephant Bedroom Camp.
With a little help from our friends at Spirit in Action, many things are possible. When you invest in good, honest people who just need a little boost, magical things happen. Blessings arrive. Progress abounds.