This is Helen, one of the Maasai artisans in Ngong Hills, Kenya. Before she worked with Love Is Project she faced many challenges as the eldest of six children. She lacked a good education growing up and was relegated to manual jobs at an early age.She got pregnant before she finished primary school. After her second child, she learned beadwork & started selling at the maasai market, but her family was still living hand to mouth.
Once she connected with Love Is Project five years ago and learned how to bead the LOVE bracelets ...that’s when her life changed. Helen can make over 15 times higher than minimum wage in Kenya. She is basically crushing it!
The income allows her to pay for her kids school fees and provide food for her family. She also bought 13 goats and a dairy cow. She now sells the milk to the neighborhood and she also manages one of the Food Gardens Love Is Project funded and sells vegetables now too! She is 31 years old.
Stories like Helen are similar to many of the artisans we work with. Picture her story and multiply that by 2000 and that is the impact Love Is Project is having around the world. This is what Melinda Gates would refer to as “the moment of lift.”
If you’re familiar with the Love Is Project story , then you know our roots were first planted in Kenya in 2012. Since then, we’ve been building deep and meaningful connections with our local partners on-the-ground—artisans and creative activists looking to build a better world.
About 4 miles from Nairobi’s City Center, lives our friend and local entrepreneur, Ben Omondi. Ben lives in a bustling slum called Kibera, a crowded town of more than a million people. Ben runs Bemos Craft Developers, upcycling bones, and horns in the products and jewelry. We’ve collaborated with him on a few of our projects. When COVID-19 hit Kibera, food became scarce. Threatened with the very real scenario of not being able to feed his family, Ben reached out to me (Chrissie here!) for support and we immediately asked, “How can we help?”
This is Ben Omandi.
Inspired by the victory gardens of yesteryear and Jesus feeding 5000 concept (Matthew 14:13-21), we looked at our collective resources and came up with the idea to grow and teach his sustainable farming practices to our community! Ben’s innovative approach to creating a local food source matched with our contributed seed money, has become the key to launching something bigger than we could have imagined.
We are so thrilled to introduce: the LOVE Grows Program.
Our first step with the LOVE Grows Program is to launch a long-lasting initiative to empower locals to grow their own farming practices and skills so families can thrive—physically and economically.
Ben’s new farming initiative is now being taught and implemented in the Kibera slums during the food crisis caused by COVID-19. Our five Maasai artisan beading villages residing in Tsavo, Kenya have already started vertical farming techniques (Fact: the Kenya climate and land in many areas makes planting traditional gardens nearly impossible). We are in awe of how Ben and his communities are taking action to not only survive, but THRIVE during this pandemic.
This month (and beyond), we’re committed to rolling out more farming and agricultural projects throughout Kenya with our artisan partners. Destined to impact more than a thousand lives, our goal is to make sure that our artisans—our extended family—have food to live. A secondary bonus is to support their livelihoods as they grow their new social enterprise ventures in farming and agriculture. In Ngong Hills alone, we are working to support 200 of our artisan families with 27 gardens planted so far that will feed 1,000 people.
"This is Pulane, she has four beautiful children and a husband who struggles with addiction. She is the sole provider and caretaker of her home and extended family. She is truly blown away by your kindness and the gift of the sheep.
This year had been incredibly tough with for us all, but your sheer determination love and the orders you have given us have been an incredible lifeline.
Our Beading Workshop team are not only grateful but incredibly determined to do everything in our power to support you on your incredible quest to give mamas like work and a bright future. After a meeting with our 25 mamas, two cooks, grannies who care for the baby’s overseers Katherin and Samiten, along with Kithinji who does the cutting and finishing work of the leather. Sending today a huge thank you from the mamas and our entire team.” - Julia Francombe - Director at Samburu Trust
Here are a few growing estimated impact stats from our LOVE Grows Program we’ve been able to implement in the past month!
We still need acres, equipment, seedlings, sheep, fuel, fences, farm tools, fencing posts, barbed wire, composted manure, and more. We invite you to do the same and to join us! Humbly, we ask you to help LOVE grow in ways you never thought imaginable.
Monetary donations are the quickest way to support this program and create the biggest impact.
Keep up with regular updates on how our Kenyan partners are growing their sustainable farming by liking this Facebook page .
Founder, Love is Project
P.S. The story continues no matter where you are in the world...here are a few visuals to really paint the picture of what we’re up to….
S ammy Semat teaching the Maasai moms how to prepare gardens in Ngong Hills.
Psssst: please enjoy this gratitude dance from the Maasai tribe in their new garden!
Tsavo Wildife Works—Hadithi Craft vertical garden projects in 5 Maasai villages including five water tanks installed.
New goats for our artisan groups in Ngong Hills.
More to come, everybody! More to come!
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