Meet the Makers
bibi&me empowers women in rural communities in Kenya by creating income generating opportunities that help to provide for the essentials – food, water, clothing, shelter, and education for their children So They Can build a more secure and sustainable future for themselves. This then educates and shows the communities as a whole how important financial sustainability is in day-to-day life in Kenya.
By purchasing their handcrafted Kiondos or donating to www.sotheycan.org you are not only supporting the local families and communities but also helping to empower these women and their sustainable future.
Here are a few of our incredible women and their stories!
Tabitha Munyao is 45 years old, married and a mother of four children.
Her day begins early with house chores, then heads to the farm where she works until midday. After lunch, Tabitha does what she does best, weaving baskets. Tabitha began weaving baskets when she was 20 years old and was taught this incredible skill by her mother. When she not weaving baskets, she makes sisal ropes.
She joined bibi&me a year ago and since then it has been an interesting journey. She is now able to meet part of her family’s daily needs and most importantly educate her kids. The program has also created a strong bond with the local women. All the women in Tabitha’s group, agreed that coming together and weaving helped them greatly in reducing stress. In a community often faced with hardships, weaving baskets comes in handy to keep them calm and focused.
Tabitha looks forward to establishing her own chicken business in the coming year. Weaving is not just a job for her but a passion and doesn’t think she will stop weaving any time soon.
Mary Elijah or Mama Zawadi as she is popularly known is 45 years old, married and a mother of three children.
Mary starts her busy day by doing her house chores early in the morning and then sits down and starts weaving baskets until her hands can weave no more. Later on she continues her chores and prepares the family supper.
Mama Zawadi learnt weaving baskets from her mother when she was a young girl and would often would take them to the market to sell them.
Mary joined bibi & me one and a half years ago. Amie Stead, Sew Women Can Program Manager, was sitting at the front of Mary’s shop during one of her visits and the vehicle they were travelling in had broken down. She was approached by a young brave and intelligent Zawadi who had seen her a couple of times in the area during her visits. Zawadi introduced Amie to her mum and she loved the baskets she was making.
From the proceeds of the program through weaving, she is now able to cater for her family’s needs and educate her children.
Mary would like to improve her home and start cattle farming in the next few years. Apart from weaving baskets, she also sells second hand clothes at the local market.Mary’s biggest achievement during this time has been teaching other women how to weave baskets. Being the leader of her weaving group, she’s has been able to bring together women in her community through weaving and in one way or the other; the women have been able to help one another.
Gladys Maweu, 38 years old, married and a mother of three children.
She learned to weave baskets from Mama Zawadi [Mary Elijah] in the month of April 2019. Gladys is a fast learner and it didn’t take her long to learn about weaving from her beautiful mentor and teacher, Mary.
She is currently employed at a local boutique and when we visited she was busy weaving a basket. Gladys enjoys making baskets, her hands are always itching to make one. When she is not busy with customers, Gladys sits in the boutique and weaves her beautiful crafted baskets.
Basket weaving has helped her improve her life and made it possible for her to meet her daily needs and been able to provide school fees and other learning materials for her kids. She says that basket making has brought women together, in turn forming new groups helping each other in different aspects of life.
Weaving baskets is what she loves doing and doesn’t think she will be stopping any time soon. In the same way she was taught by Mary, Gladys has been teaching other women in her community how to weave baskets to help improve their lives.
Faith is 25 years old, and is quite and hardworking. Faith was raised by her cousin after her mother died when she was young. She never had a chance to go to secondary school.
They moved to Nakuru after the post-election violence and struggled to make ends meet. All she ever dreamed of was to work hard, but wherever Faith looked she couldn’t find work. Shortly after the move, Faith fell pregnant with her first child and life became even harder.
In 2014, Faith heard about So They Can’s, Sew Women Can training program through a friend and went to the school to find out more. The program was established for young vulnerable mothers, and designed to provide skills and employment opportunities for women. Faith was accepted as one of the program’s first trainees and ever since has gone from strength to strength.
Faith makes school uniforms for the children at Aberdare Ranges and bracelets, kitenge animals, napkins, aprons and other items for bibi&me. I am stable now. I can pay rent and provide for my children. Faith now aspires to give her children the education that she was deprived of.