Elibit a Strong, Determined Artisan Creating Handmade Beauty and a Powerful Example
Meet Elibit. She is one of the older mama’s in our Baskets and Beads group. She has lived in the Kipsongo slum in Kitale, Kenya for many years having fled harsh conditions in the Turkana region where she is from. The following interview is translations from English to Swahili to Turkana and back and forth. Elibit speaks Turkana which is translated into Swahili from Dorcas to Leila then translated into English from Leila to Eldonna.
She is from the Turkana tribe and her tribe was always infighting with the Pokot tribe. People from the Pokot tribe would come and steal their cattle and people would be killed. Then they would steal them back and it kept going on and on.
Four of Elibit’s children were killed during these tribal wars. Her husband was overwhelmed with grief and took ill and died. After so much tragedy, Elbit mad a decision to leave that the Lodwar area and she made her way to Kitale with her remaining children. Kitale is about 8 hours from Nairobi. She was begging on the streets and unable to effectively provide for her family. Her children were still young and she did this for many years.
When she was still going to town and begging she heard about this group of women who met together every week. She learned that the group was helping women to make beads and sell them and she decided to come join the group. She already knew how to make some beads but learned new ways of bead making from the group.
The first large order that we placed filled 7 suitcases. Our group was only at about 25 by this time and each lady earned a good amount for the dozens of beads they creates. When the ladies got paid, Elbit was sure this was for the entire group of 5 that she worked with as a team. She kept asking our Kenya Team Director Leila to confirm the amount that was supposed to be hers as she was convinced it was not all for her. She held onto the money until she was ensured it was all hers that she had earned is all. She said she’d never had that much money at one time in her life.
Elibit decided to invest some of the money she earned from bead making into another business. She purchased several products such as soap, body oil, washing powder and other items wholesale and opened a kiosk in her house to sell those items and create another stream of income for herself. Now she has more than one way to earn income.
This helps supplement her income and enables her to support herself and her family. When she sells beads, she always invests some of what she earns into purchasing more items to restock her shop. She is learning how to be an entrepreneur that creates multiple streams of income for herself.
Elibit was living alone until recently when the wives of two of her sons left them and left two children each behind. The sons are both working and unable to properly care for the children. They are all very young; one is only 1-½ years old. Now Elibit is raising her four grandchildren and having to provide for them too.
Being part of Baskets and Beads had enabled Elibit and our other ladies earn an income that enables them to provide for their families and create other avenues of income.