My grandmother is a wonderfully talented quilter, so this post reminds me of her. I love you, Gram.
Since living in Nairobi, I have been spending my time with the women at Amani Ya Juu. Amani is a women’s sewing and reconciliation project designed to help women generate an income, while being taught and shown the love of Jesus Christ. Every morning they pray together, and in their words “carry each other’s burdens.” They are also fed the Word of God through regular devotions led by the strong Christian women among them. Throughout the day, they learn how to sew and quilt and make jewelry.
Amani is also a store and cafe. (The women make the products which are sold in a large building behind the store.) So, when you come to Amani, you can enjoy lunch in the garden after you’ve exhausted your pocketbook shopping. Phil and I like to say it’s “guilt-free” shopping. Each item you buy is supporting a woman who needs your help. You are giving her work, so that she can support her family. How can you feel bad about those purchases? It’s much more fulfilling than shopping at the mall. And the designs are much more original!
Back to quilting… one of the products that the women at Amani make are African quilts. The patterns are classic, but the fabrics, colors, and quilting designs are unique to Africa and especially to Amani. You see at Amani, the women dye, batik, and screen print their own fabrics. It is a lot of work, but they do it impeccably. In addition to these “Amani fabrics”, the women use what we call “katenge” and “kikoi” fabrics. These are what you would typically recognize as African materials. When you mix all of these fabrics together, arrange them in classic patterns, and add the women’s artistic quilting touch – the result is simply gorgeous!
This is my friend, Delphine. She is from Rwanda (full story to come in a later post) and is one of our extremely talented quilters. She is finishing this quilt with an all-over swirl design using a free-arm machine. Her creative hand and eye makes each of her quilts a literal work of art. Trust me, Phil and I already bought one and every night I curl up in it feeling spoiled because it is all-too-beautiful.
So, part of my work at Amani is helping the women to sell these quilts online. We will be posting them on websites such as Ebay and Etsy. We hope to have them up in the next few days, so if you are interested in supporting these ladies please find their quilts and buy your favorite. I will be helping you to find them after I have them posted. Also feel free to visit Amani’s online store if you want to see what else is available: http://www.amaniafrica.org/ashop/index.php.
Wish you could come over and join me, Gram. I know you could teach the women a few great tips! Missing you…