A Story of Faith and Determination

Meet the woman on the ground, our Kenya Team Director Leila, and read her personal journey that lead to the start of Baskets and Beads.


Our Fair Trade product of the week is the Leila necklace, named after our Kenya Team Director Leila Salma. Leila is a wife and a mother of two amazing kids. She was born in a Muslim family and felt there was always something missing in her life and she searched for it in different places but didn’t find it, until she met Jesus Christ in 2009 and accepted Him.

Leila started living a life of service and giving back to her community. She started working with street kids and orphans from 2010 to 2016. Then she experienced personal loss and trauma. She lost 2 children between her two kids. One was a miscarriage and one died as an infant because the doctors were on strike and could not get medical care for the baby.

Leila felt lost and didn’t understand why she had to go through so much pain. She didn’t realize at the time that God was preparing her for the work and walk ahead with the ladies of the Kipsongo slum who are also hurting and in pain.

She met 5 women from Kipsongo who were hurting but for them, it was worse because they are facing extremely poor living conditions. They had no healthcare, no school for their children, domestic violence, hunger and starvation, no water, no sanitation and many more challenges to the point that they had to go scrap food from dumpsters.

We came together and prayed on how to help each other. They wanted to use their skills to provide for their families. They knew how to make baskets and beads, all they needed was a small startup capital. Leila was able to get $300 from a friend to give them but they decided not to give it as a handout but to loan it to them. They earned enough to repay the loan after some time. She thought the money could be used to help 5 more women.

People told her it wouldn’t work but she was determined. Then she met Eldonna who came on a mission trip to Kenya with Steve Rutenbar. When Eldonna met the ladies of Kipsongo she went to sleep thinking about how to help them and woke up in the middle of the night with an idea to buy some beads and sell them in the US with her book when she was speaking.

That morning Eldonna and Leila started talking about the idea and they found out they had the same desire to help these women in Kipsongo. God had brought them together and Baskets and Beads Kenya was formed.

Now over 30 women are part of the group and making beads and changing the course of their lives.


The ladies created the necklace now known as the Leila Necklace and presented it as a new product they developed. The necklace is so beautiful and detailed with a woven look to it and is available in many colors. We consider the Leila as part of our Kenya Couture Collection because of the extensive beadwork, beautiful detail and significant design to the beads.

Baskets and Beads Kenya would not operate without Leila leading the team in Kenya. She coordinates the orders with the ladies and meets with them regularly. When we raise money for food packs she orders the food wholesale and distributes it to the ladies. She is an amazing leader and has a heart to serve. We thank God for Leila being a key part of Team Baskets and Beads.


Thank you for helping to be part of this journey with us and for all of the people who made purchases for the holidays. Make sure to get your orders in for family, friends and even yourself!

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