There are many days I close my eyes and reflect on when I first opened our workshop in 2013. We started part-time and worked out of a music classroom of a wonderful school in the village. Every day I would set up the work room and excitedly await the beautiful 16 women who would come through the door. I wish I could go back and encourage my 22-year-old self that the best is yet to come. I also wish I could give her a glimpse into the transformative change that has happened in over 100 lives on the coast of Kenya.
I think if I could go back and tell her all of it that she wouldn’t believe it. My heartbeat then was to create opportunity and empower through education, but what I did not realize is that I was speaking the same language of creating sustainable development in community. As I got older, educated myself, and my experiences shaped my thoughts, actions and pursuits – the reality was, I wanted to see generational change. I did not want this temporary fix and I wanted to educate our communities from reaching out for the quick handout. I wanted to see change in our artisans, their confidence and that to overflow into their families and communities.
Creating sustainability takes times, intentional effort and ultimately cultural shifts.
Over the last seven years, we have seen some amazing changes happen at Imani Collective and I am proud of our team, their hard work, diligence and growth.
So, as I sat in Lodwar (Turkana) yesterday, I was brought to tears because it reminded me of where we once were, and it gave me an immense amount of joy to know where these women could go. I just embraced the moments, took in the smiles even in the midst of hardship and saw a beautiful hope that resonated. I was also reminded of my why and that alone, was life giving over the last couple of days. It brought my spirit alive.
I am not the solution and never have been. The people and the community are capable of creating the solution. They are capable of fostering generational change, they just need a little birdy telling them “You can do this. You are worthy of this.” I am honored that I get to be that little birdy.
From the little ethical birdy,
Lodwar, Turkana is located in Northern Kenya (VERY FAR from my home city – Mombasa)
and in the past 48-hours, I have traveled with our team to visit and assess a new partnership. We are excited that very soon we will be starting with a group of 10 women in Turkana to bring one of a kind designs and beauty to your home. Your purchase is creating sustainability and generational life change. Thank you.
For more information about Imani Collective, please visit our website.
You can also read into our 2019 Impact Report.