A Community of Support: Meet Helen

Life can be hard when you don't have a community of support around you. I know there have been times when I have felt alone and needed to bootstrap my way through trouble. In fact, many of the artisans of Baskets and Beads Kenya have had rough experiences. Our faith to push through these experiences is what often brings us together.

This week I want to introduce you to Hellen. She worked on the streets of Kitale. Born in the Kipsongo slum as part of a family of 10. Her parents had fled Lodwar due to tribal clashes and her and her other 2 sisters were working on the streets to help the family. When she got pregnant, she left the streets and started living with the father but life became unbearable when the guy started beating her and abusing her in any way he wanted. When she tried to leave, the guy would hunt her down and beat her until she is taken to the hospital. She was isolated, depressed and it wasn't until the Basket and Beads community came together did she have the ability to change her situation.

Hellen was one of the first ladies we worked with, and like so many, it was really hard to get her to trust anyone. Over time she started to talk and laugh. She left the man she was with and now supports her 2 children from the money made from the necklaces and other handcrafted products. We even have a Hellen necklace in her honor. The pandemic has been hard on everyone as it was harder to keep our community together. Unfortunately, Helen has required medical attention for a miscarriage as the result of abuse. She will also be treated for diabetes. Thankfully, part of Operation Kenya 2022 is to help the community with some medical care..

The women that work within Baskets and Beads Kenya are resilient and tough. I like to think of the Ankara Wax Fabrics that are used for pillows, part of our purses, headbands and skirts (currently only available at the Fairtrade long beach store) when referring to how strong the women are in our community. The fabric is beautiful. unique- as the patterns are created from wax separating the portions of cloth to be dyed, strong and soft to the touch.

The items that are made by our artisan often tell a story about them. From the tree of life square soapstone bowls to the festive soapstone animals to the beaded baskets that take time to craft. Lots of heart goes into the creation that are shared with you. and it is a blessing to be able to provide an outlet of positive benefit for the artisan that make them.

Not all of our personal journeys are filled with rainbows and happy moments but the time that we share together provide hope for betterment. The ladies will even be going on a wellness retreat during Operation Kenya 2022 as we come together to continue to flourish as a community. Let's all take some time to relax this spring and see the beauty around us.

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