13 Feb 2018. We're just back from a busy five weeks in southern Africa. We kicked off with an amazing six days in Kruger National Park with Alison and Graham and our champion organisers Helen and Nathan. In Johannesburg, Magie had a chance to catch up with quilting pals and do some shopping, while Bob stayed properly focused on food - especially the famous 'Russian sausage sandwich' at Nathan's favourite junk food haven, Akhalwayas.
Then we headed for new territory - Moçambique - which from a textile point of view is known mainly for its women's wrapper called capulano. Through a local eco-tourism organisation on Ilha de Moçambique (www.ilhablue.com) we found an old lady who taught us all about this traditional cloth via an interpreter. Textiles aside, Ilha de Moçambique - a UNESCO world heritage site - is fascinating, welcoming, laid-back and steeped in history. Then in Maputo we found a wonderful capulano emporium called Casa Elefante. Of course, Magie bought several pieces for her collection!
Back in South Africa, we popped in on our great pal Pam Stallebrass near Cape Town and did some interesting and exhausting touring in the Karoo. All in all, a great trip.
30 May 2018: Our friend Kenedy Owiti and his team of batik bone bead makers lost their thriving workshop to a devestating fire recently in Nairobi.
We responded by sending money for new tools so they could get up and running and that was matched by our friend Gretchen in Nairobi.
Now we want to sell as many of Kenedy's beads as we can, as fast as we can, so that we can get the workshop producing at capacity again.
To help that happen, we are discounting all of Kenedy's batik bone beads by 10% on the website. We are hoping that you'll respond by buying heaps of beads at a great price. That way we can send Kenedy a wopping big order - just what he needs to get back on his feet again.
Please buy Kenedy's bone beads NOW!
View and buy: Bone Beads
16 Jul 2018. In the aftermath of Kenedy's devestating fire, we're very grateful to you - our customers - for buying plenty of Kenedy's bone beads. Many of you also sent generous cash donations.
Added to our own contribution, all that money helped Kenedy buy new machines to get his workshop up and running again. For Kenedy and his staff, time was critical: in Africa, no production means no food.
Here are a few lines of thanks from Kenedy. Please read them. They say a lot about life in Africa.
'I would like to say thank you for your support of buying me the machines. It was really kind and helpful. I also thank Gretchen for letting you know what happened in Kibera. I received the money you sent through Gretchen and I bought 3 machines with the money you sent. Thank you very much. May God bless you.'
Kenedy went on to explain what is happening in Kibera. The government is demolishing slum areas to build rental housing. It sounds a good thing, until you realise that most people won't be able to afford the rent and that there is no provision for workshops like Kenedy's.
Where will he set up his machines in the long term? Nobody can tell him. Many others are in the same boat. Land - if it can be found - is expensive. For now, local artisans like Kenedy are using tents, but they do not know what the future holds.
Kenedy sums it up like this. 'The situation is stressful, but otherwise we are okay and doing fine. God has kept us alive.'
View and buy: Kenedy Owiti's Bone Beads