December 29th, 2020, Sharjah (Sharjah): The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) and NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA) – two Sharjah-based non-profit organisations, have joined hands to support a skills development training programme to economically empower more than 300 women in the Kenyan village of Nanyuki.
TBHF, a global humanitarian organisation dedicated to helping people in need worldwide, has allocated 252,500 AED ($68,748) for the project which will enable women to learn the process of spinning, knitting, dyeing, and weaving wool under the guidance of the crafts cooperative, Nanyuki Spinners and Weavers.
NAMA, which engages with both grassroots and international organisations as part of its comprehensive approach towards developing an ecosystem in which women’s full potential is realised, has contributed an estimate of 100,000 AED ($27,174) towards the total cost of the project.
Apart from the construction of a new workshop the project costs will also cover all expenses of materials and meals provided to women during the training period. In addition, the humanitarian project, which commenced in October 2020, will also support the education of 12 orphan children by providing their tuition fees.
The TBHF-NAMA funded project in Nanyuki will be completed in December 2021.
Self-help project for women
Nanyuki is one of the major wool producing areas in Kenya as it has favourable conditions for rearing and raising sheep. Using locally available raw material from the Central Highlands region around Mount Kenya, women at Nanyuki Spinners and Weavers create beautiful carpets, shawls, cardigans, throws, pullovers, scarves, and bed covers in an array of designs.
Founded in 1977 as a self-help project to train poor, widowed, and single women living in the villages surrounding Nanyuki town, the cooperative has trained more than 282 women till date, enabling many of them to move from squatter settlements to homes erected on land purchased through their earnings.
Many Nanyuki beneficiaries have also funded the primary and secondary education of their children, several of whom have progressed to pursue higher studies at the university level.
TBHF envisions long-term impact in communities
In a statement, Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of TBHF, said: “By championing and adopting sustainable humanitarian projects that aim to strengthen individual capabilities, TBHF’s objective is to create a long-term impact on communities in fragile environments. Over the past four decades, Nanyuki Spinners and Weavers have done excellent work in establishing a network to support their products in global markets, and this project supported by TBHF and NAMA will boost Nanyuki’s existing infrastructure to train more women and make them self-reliant through practicing the craft.”
She added: “With collaborative support from NAMA for this project, women and youth in Nanyuki can not only be trained in a new livelihood skill but also gain the opportunities to enter the workforce, and pave the path for boosting their standard of living through improved economic, professional and social environments. Additionally, by supporting the education of orphans in the town, TBHF seeks to support the children’s wellbeing and future life opportunities.”
Creating an enabling environment for women
Commenting on NAMA’s support of the Nanyuki project, Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, said: “NAMA is a firm believer in empowering women by increasing their capabilities through skills training, which opens the door for them to improve their income-generation opportunities and facilitates their participation in the formal labour market. When women assert their right to economic resources, it gives them a voice in decision making, and creates a ripple effect that positively impacts their families and communities.”
BinKaraam added: “NAMA Women Advancement Establishment’s collaboration with TBHF stems from our goal of creating enabling environments for women across the world to advance gender equity and inclusive economic and social growth. By introducing a livelihood programme, Nanyuki Spinners and Weavers is also ensuring the modernisation of a traditional craft and creating a sustainable future for both the crafts and the women artisans practicing them.”
Photos from Nanyuki Spinners and Weavers.