A life-changing project is underway in a charming Dripping Springs area, about 30 miles outside of Austin, transforming women’s lives in Kenya.
It is taking place in Anne Drane’s house. Co-founder and CEO of the nonprofit Sawa Sawa, she. It’s one of those things you say in Swahili all the time. Sawa Sawa means “it’s going to be Alright” or “equal,” according to Drane.
The organization aims to enable Kenyan artisan women to earn a living via weaving, beading, and other traditional crafts. In 2014, when Drane relocated to Texas from her home in Kenya, Sawa Sawa began as a hobby.
Drane said I needed a few things from home, so I asked my mother to visit the communities and bring me authentic Kenyan goods.
She claimed that the Kenyan women came from impoverished, outlying areas and would travel great distances to sell her mother stuff like jewelry and handbags.
Drane says they produce such exquisite items, and their talents have been developed for generations. “It is absurd that they should be in poverty. There ought to be a market for their output.
Sawa Sawa provided that outlet for Drane. Her organization gives women the tools to hone their weaving and beading talents and gives them the confidence to market their goods globally.
Her Dripping Springs residence has evolved into a stockroom for their interests. She said that the revenues had changed the women’s lives in Kenya.
“When we started, they didn’t have enough food to feed their own families, so it’s so amazing to see the women you are working with are thriving, and their children are going to school,” Drane said.
Angelica Reyes Johnson, a friend of Drane’s and a board member, has observed the transformation since Sawa Sawa became an official 501(c)(3) non-profit.
According to Johnson, the entire town will benefit if you give a female weaver a stable income. KXAN invited Drane to record her most recent journey to Kenya in February so they could gain complete knowledge of how this group operates.
She offered films and pictures that provide an inside look at the creation process. “Every step is completed by hand. The agave is harvested, stripped by beating it against a tree until the fiber falls out, rolled on their thighs till string forms, and then dyed with onions or ceiling soot, according to Drane.
“They weave everything by hand using the soot to create the brown that forms the bag. One bag is made in three weeks.
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Every color on the bags has a particular significance and a unique tale. “The orange symbolizes generosity and friendliness.
The blue comes from the sky, which provides us with rain, and from the food, according to Drane. “They carry on messages and the histories of specific families by creating such lovely designs using natural colors. The way they weave their bags can be used to identify particular family lines.
Drane assisted the roughly 100 women who work with Sawa Sawa to make purses and jewelry out of beads over most of February and early March in Kenya.
Her goal, however, goes beyond mere workmanship. Her nonprofit also provides drought assistance and potable water to isolated towns.
On her most recent visit, she collaborated with a conservancy close to many women’s communities. She cited the declining numbers of elephants and rhinos as evidence that some women engage in poaching to earn additional money.
Drane tries to get them to turn to weaving and beading to make a living. They won’t work with poachers if they are wealthy and occupied; instead, Drane argued, they will want to preserve the ecosystem.
Sawa Sawa revenue is used to support reproductive health education in Kenya. Drane said that we give them sanitary pads and underwear to have their period in privacy, dignity, and safety.
She claimed that considering how far these women have come since joining Sawa Sawa makes her cry.
Drane explained, “I’m trying to help people see solutions to their difficulties so they can own those solutions and work hard.