Friday, November 20, 2015

Amani ya Juu

Tote bag from Amani ya Juu hanging on my wheelchair

Whenever I leave the house, I have a special bag that goes with me. I call it my "Africa Bag." It is sturdy and beautiful, and it hangs on the back of my wheelchair. I like the way it dresses up my wheelchair, but it is also very practical because it keeps me from having to hold my purse, water bottle, and more in my lap. This bag is special because it was made by women at Amani ya Juu.

Amani ya Juu

Amani ya Juu means "Peace from Above." This organization serves marginalized women in Africa by providing them with jobs and Bible teaching. Many of the women who work through Amani ya Juu are refugees from various countries. They learn to work in peace with women from other cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and they are taught that they can have peace with God.

Amani ya Juu began in 1996 after Becky Chinchen, an American missionary in Liberia, had to flee the country with her family because of civil war. Becky became one of many refugees in Kenya, and this opened her eyes to the plight of refugee women. She and three other refugee women in Nairobi, Kenya began making crafts to sell, and they founded Amani ya Juu.

The women who work for Amani ya Juu are paid a livable wage, and their beautiful products are sold in the Amani store. Through the work of Amani ya Juu, these women find dignity, hope, and peace.

I would like to share these two videos that show the work of Amani ya Juu. (If you are reading this in an email, you will need to click over to see the vieos.)
"Meet Lucy. Lucy lives in Africa. When war broke out, she lost her home, her belongings, and worst of all - members of her family. Now Lucy is a refugee without a country, friends, or an income..."

"With all there is to experience in and around Nairobi, there is one place I wanted to see as much as any other while we were here. I'd heard of a place called 'Amani ya Juu' and the amazing things happening there, so I decided to stop in, and check it out..."

Amani ya Juu tote bags

I first heard about Amani ya Juu several years ago from my Mom. She had a beautiful purse from Amani, and I loved the vibrant African fabrics. I needed a bag to hang on the back of my wheelchair, and I knew I wanted one from Amani. My first Amani purchase was the vibrant tote bag you see on the left in the picture above. The width of the bag was the same width as my wheelchair, so it was a perfect fit. I sewed loops on the side of the bag using black grosgrain ribbon. The loops slide over the push handles of my wheelchair.

A few years later I needed a new Africa bag for my new wheelchair, and I purchased the tote bag you see on the right in the picture above. This time I sewed on larger loops to fit the push handles on my new wheelchair. Both of these bags are sturdy and have held up well over the years. Neither of these exact bags are available in the Amani store currently, but there are many similar styles available.

The Amani product line has expanded quite a bit over the years. In addition to bags, they also offer clothing, baby items, kitchen items, stationery, and more! If you like to shop fair trade, or if you are looking for a unique gift to give at Christmas, the Amani store is definitely worth checking out.

Amani ya Juu recently sent this Folded African Shopping Tote to me as a gift. Isn't it a beautiful shopping bag? The fabric is thin and lightweight, but very sturdy. And the bag folds into its own little pouch! This would be a great bag to bring in a suitcase when travelling. It doesn't take up much space, but it unfolds into a surprisingly large and sturdy bag if you need it.

Amani ya Juu sent a second shopping tote for me to give away to one of you! Are you interested in learning more about Amani ya Juu? Amani is working on growing their list of email subscribers so that they can reach more members, sell more products, and help more women. If you would like to join the Amani mailing list, simply enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

If you are already on the Amani mailing list, but would still like to enter the giveaway, simply enter using your email address that is subscribed to their mailing list. We don't want to leave loyal members out of the giveaway!

Thanks for letting me tell you about Amani ya Juu today! The giveaway will close on November 27. The winner will be notified by email on November 28.

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