Since this was my second time in Kenya, I didn’t want to come home with lots of little souvenirs for friends and family – hundreds of dollars and Maasai beads, mass produced wood carvings, copied paintings and the like. Instead, I decided to support community projects by purchasing gifts from hardworking Kenyan women. I was delighted to find two such projects, Kazuri beads and the necklace project at Pipeline IDP camp.
Women at Kazuri Bead factory roll clay into beads
Kazuri beads has been around for over 30 years and I purchased a couple of items from them the first time I was in Kenya. Kazuri is Kiswahili for something small and beautiful which is the perfect description for the hand made ceramic beads crafted by the 300 and some destitute women who work at the factory. The process is a detailed one! The beads are rolled from clay found near Mt. Kenya into specific shapes and sizes, hand painted, fired multiple times, glazed and strung all done by hand at the Kazuri factory in Karen. Visitors are welcomed to tour the factory (Tami, Bridget and I visited in mid-October for the grand tour) and to learn more of the history of the project. Absolutely beautiful work, and designed by struggling Kenyan single mothers.
Stringing beads at Kazuri
Custom made wall hangings at Kazuri Beads
The necklaces made at Pipeline IDP camp are, believe it or not, rolled from old magazines! The women roll the strips of magazine tightly, lacquer them and string them along with other glass beads on fishing wire. This project was started by a handful of female Pipeline residents several months ago in order to help make an income for their struggling families. I’ve said this time and time again: African women are some of the strongest people in the world.
Beads rolled from magazines and made by women at Pipeline
Irene sent me back to the US with over 100 Pipeline necklaces to pass along to a former visitor who has found an outlet to sell them in the US in order to raise money for the project. I believe she is selling them for $10 each, and they would make great holiday gifts! I will post as soon as I have more information about this.
Heather models her Pipeline necklaces
A proud craftswoman showcases her product