Sister Artists Kenya Quilts

 

Background

 

The Advocacy Project is pleased to announce the launch of our COVID Quilt Series.

The project is a follow-up to our Sister Artists series that also provides a narrative on the struggles that our artists faced during the COVID-19 crisis worldwide.

During the height of the pandemic, the Kenyan artists produced delightful embroidered blocks depicting what COVID means to them.

AP is seeking quilters to turn their animal blocks into art quilts, which will eventually be auctioned. The project is open to any quilter from the Global North and South and will start on March 8, 2021 at 12.30 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST). Applications will be accepted in the order they reach us. Blocks will be marked TAKEN when they are assigned to a quilter.

To participate, please donate $25 to cover shipping costs by clicking on the Donate button on our home page. Email us at DCoffice@advocacynet.org with a) the number of your chosen block; b) the numbers of two other blocks if your first choice is not available; c) your full name and contact details (email, phone and address). We will send the blocks by registered mail and ask you for a profile and photo. Contact us by email or phone (+1 202 422 2479) for further information.

Once the quilts are completed, we will post profiles of the quilters on these pages and auction the quilts online. All profits will be invested in income-generating projects designed by the artists in Kenya and managed by our two partner organizations in Kenya, The Tandaza Trust (Kibera) and the Kangemi Advocacy Self-Help Group. We hope that quilters will contact their Kenyan artists directly.

We are delighted to once again reward the creativity of women fiber artists, particularly during this period of stress and anxiety. Special thanks to Gill Rebelo, Sigrun Hansen and Bobbi Fitzsimmons for their tireless work and encouragement, and to Humanity United for its generous financial support.

SPECIFICATIONS AND DEADLINE: Finished quilts can be any dimension, size or shape and should come with a sleeve. Please send us your quilt by registered mail by June 30, 2021 if possible. We will send other information (return address etc) with your chosen block. Contact us with questions!

Please share this announcement as widely as possible.

Embroidered Blocks

 

The artists from Kangemi and Kibera wore face masks and observed social distancing when they gathered for a group training, and welcomed the opportunity to work with their friends while making their blocks. Each block features a species of wildlife from Kenya and is intended to serve as the foundation for an art quilt. The average size is 14″ by 12″. Profiles of the artists can be found on the next two tabs. To select a block, please follow the instructions on the opening page.

 
 
 

#1. Fire Finch

#2. Crocodile

#3. Rhino

#4. Ostrich

#5. Warthog

#6. Thomson Gazelle

#7. Rhino

#8. Buffalo

#9. Hyena

#10. Rhino

#11. Lioness

#12. Crested Cranes

#13. Elephant

#14. Antelope

#15. Hippo

#16. Monkey

#17. Snake

#18. Kangaroo

#19. Leopard

#20. Giraffe

#21. Leopard

#22. Thomson Gazelle

#23. Buffalo

#24. Lion

#25. Lioness

#26. Wildcat

#27. Zebra

#28. Giraffe

#29. Zebra

#30. Lion

#31 Peacock

 

#32 Baby elephant

$33. Wildebeeste

#34. Kangaroo

#35. Crane

#36. Lion

#37. Lilac Crested Bird

#38. Giraffe

#39 Oryx

#40. Crane

#41. Flamingo

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

Sister Artists from the North

 

 

 

Sister Artists from Kibera

 

The artists pictured above and profiled below live in the informal settlement of Kibera, a suburb of Nairobi with a population of over 300,000. Kibera is notorious for its lack of services. Many families live on less than a dollar a day and face a daunting array of medical threats, from HIV/AIDS to malaria. The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the challenge.

In spite of this, as their blocks show, the inhabitants of Kibera are resilient, talented and proud of their county’s unique wildlife. Most of the artists learned creative stitching while producing blocks for The Woman’s World Quilt in 2019.

The project was led by Stella Makena, program manager at The Tandaza Trust.

Oryx by Winnie Achieng

Winnie lives in Kianda area of Kibera where she settled 6 years ago after leaving her rural home in Homabay county in Nyanza Kenya.  On completing secondary education her family sent her to Nairobi to find a job but instead she got an opportunity to start a small shop using her savings from casual jobs. Unfortunately, the business soon wound up as Winnie ran out of capital since most customers who picked items on credit would not pay.  She has been doing casual labour to help support her family and has realized that working with her hands while embroidering, brings her joy and supplements her weekly income. She is married with a son and is expecting another soon. Winnie plans to save enough capital to reopen her retail shop and build it to a wholesale business.

 

 

Lion by Beldine Akinyi

Belding grew up in Homabay county and was fortunate to proceed to college soon after high school. After finishing her diploma in Accounts she travelled to Nairobi in 2016 in search of a job but has since managed to get short contracts in the industrial area. Beldine has discovered her hidden talent because she could neither stitch nor embroider until she joined the Kibera ladies’ project. She has made new friends and aspires to open her own business selling clothes and fashion accessories. She is married and is expecting her second child.

 

 

Lilac Crested Roller by Caroline Achieng

Caroline was born in Ruai, Nairobi county; she got married and settled in Kibera 17 years ago! Despite her life challenges as a young mother of four and a casual labourer, Caroline has taught herself tailoring and currently makes African attire from her house in Kibera. She has enjoyed learning embroidery and hopes to perfect that too.

 

 

Wildebeest by Patricia Waithera

Patricia was born and raised in Kibera, Nairobi county but spent her schooling years in Nyandarua county in central Kenya. She has a very good history of Kibera before the rural – urban migration that transformed the area into an informal settlement. Patricia was fortunate to get a job in Karen, Nairobi after completing her diploma in Hotel management but had to relocate to her rural home following the 2007 and 2017 post election violence that rocked the country. She later returned to Kibera and has since been doing Housekeeping casual jobs to support her family back home. She also plaits hair and enjoys working with children and aspires to open her own salon. Patricia looks forward each week to embroider and meet up with the ladies because she has learnt something new that can help her supplement her weekly wages.

 

 

Crane by Veena Moige

Venah travelled from Birongo – Kisii county five years ago after completing secondary education. She later pursued a course in Computer studies but due to lack of fees had to drop out. Determined to make ends meet, she does Housekeeping jobs and is saving towards starting a small groceries shop. Venah is married with two children and appreciates spending time with the ladies each week. She learnt embroidery for the first time during the project and has found it an enjoyable source of income.

 

 

Crane by Catherine Nyambeki

Catherine studied Business Management in Nairobi after completing her secondary school education in Kisii county, Western Kenya. Despite the unemployment challenges she has been able to support her family through short contract housekeeping jobs and has since learnt how to save part of her weekly earnings from the project. Since joining the project in February 2020, she has learnt how weave a mat and how to embroider. She hopes to open her own business in future and not be employed as this will give her time to care for her family. Catherine is an expectant mother, married with two daughters.

 

 

Rhino by Irene Akinyi

Irene was born in Voi, a town in Taita-Taveta county. Her family later moved to the border town of Busia in Western Kenya where she finished secondary school and moved to Nairobi in 2012 to study Hairdressing and Beauty. Irene dropped out of college due to lack of fees but has since continued to pursue short contracts in various salons in Kibera. She aspires to complete her course and later open her own salon in future. Irene is married and lives in Ayani, Kibera with her three daughters. She joined the project in October 2019 when her last born daughter was a few months old. The project has been an enjoyable space for Irene and she looks forward to it each week.

 

 

Giraffes by Cecilia Marigi

Cecilia comes from Nyandarua county, in Central Kenya and currently lives in Nairobi where she came in search of a job 24 years ago. As a single mother of two young adults Cecilia recounts that challenges made her determined to educate her children and put herself through school where she did computer studies. She supplemented her income by doing short contracts and small businesses before joining Tandaza trust. Cecilia works in the toughest of places; in the slums and the streets of Nairobi because her heart is for women struggling with drug addiction, prostitution and gender violence. She really enjoys being with the lively ladies in Kibera and says that this project has sharpened her embroidery skills since joining it in October 2019.

 

 

Antelope by Eunice Wanjiku

Eunice is a single mother of two young adults and has lived in Nairobi since 2016. Her mother and siblings reside in Nakuru county where she schooled and completed her course in Community development and Social work. Life was really hard in Nakuru hence Eunice travelled to Nairobi in the promise of greener pastures but found herself working as a domestic worker in different homes; washing clothes to support her children and her extended family in Nakuru. Her personal experience and life struggles made her resolve to help vulnerable and disadvantaged mothers and youth struggling with poverty, drug addiction and gender violence. At Tandaza Trust she found a good opportunity to work closely with the less fortunate and marginalized communities living in informal settlements. Eunice says she never knew embroidery until she learnt it for the first time in October 2019 at the first AP project for Kibera and says she is enjoying every bit of it.

 

 

Fire Finch by Stella Makena

Stella was born in Mombasa county, Kenya’s coastal town and currently lives in Nairobi with her family. She has seen the struggles of single mothers and how poverty marginalizes people within communities. Stella says that it is heartbreaking to meet women and youth with big dreams and with such potential who remain disadvantaged because of lack of opportunity. She hopes that her work at Tandaza Trust will make a difference in the life of the less fortunate. Stella has thoroughly enjoyed this project and found it very therapeutic.

Flamingo by Agnes Mogire

Agnes was born in Kisii county in Western Kenya. She came to Nairobi 10 years ago in the hope of starting her college education and settled in Kibera 2 years later after several attempts to get a job.  Starting life afresh had its ups and downs but in it she found a new passion in hairdressing and beauty and currently plaits hair at a small fee to make ends meet. She hopes to run a successful Hair and Beauty salon in future. Agnes has also discovered that she loves embroidery as it keeps her well occupied during the day and supplements her household budget. She is married with 2 children.

Sister Artists from Kangemi

 

The artists featured on this page live in the informal settlement of Kangemi, a neighborhood of Nairobi. Kangemi does not have the garish reputation of Kibera, but conditions are almost as bad and were denounced by Pope Francis during a visit in November 2015.

The artists range in age from 18 to 65. As their profiles show, many are single mothers and struggle to put food on the table. About a third produced blocks for the Woman’s World Quilt in 2019. The rest had no prior experience of creative stitching and received training from Christine Kibuka, a well-known fiber artist in Nairobi. They tell us that learning this important new skill together at a time of great anxiety has been proundly therapeutic.

In late 2020, the artists formed the Kagemi Advocacy Self Help Group to facilitate management of the project. The association recently acquired legal status. The artists hope that it can provide a vehicle for a new income-generating project with AP, and a way to advocate for improved services n Kangemi. The project was led by Caren Mbayaki.

Crocodile by Caren Mbayaki

Hello! I am a single mother of two boys – one biological, 12, and my nephew 18 months. I was brought up in a humble background with 12 siblings. I am the 10th born. Both parents are still alive although they are juggling chronicle illness. I did a Diploma in Community Development and entered Moi university to study for my degree – although I had to defer for the last three years to take care of my dad. I was introduced to this program by Madam Teresia. Through that I developed an interest in embroidery which is very therapeutic, I must say. Professionally, I am a community service provider. I am very passionate about giving back to society and helping vulnerable families. In Kangemi, I am a volunteer. I mentor adolescents, girls and young mothers on issues like GBV and HIV/AIDS.

 

Elephant by Sabina Maitha Mutiso

I am aged 18. I am a college student taking a hospitality course. I live with my family – both parents and 3 siblings. I have an elder brother, a younger sister and a younger brother. I like cooking and watching movies.I was introduced to embroidery in 2019 and so far I love it. Doing it is enjoyable. Thank you all.

 

 

Buffalo by Betty Namalwa

I am 22 years, mother to a son, and born of a family of six. My parents are small-scale farmers from up county. My level of education is Form 4. Right now am working towards achieving my goal so I may live a better life. Thank you all for your support, especially at this time of the corona pandemic.

   

Zebra by Teresia Kithanga

I am a teacher in a complementary primary school in one of the Nairobi slums. I am married with two boys and two girls. Three are still in school. I was introduced  to embroidery by a friend and I like it! It keeps me busy. Thank you all.

 

 

Monkey by Pauline Makeri

I am 22 years old. I come from a family of six – both parents, one brother and two sisters. I’m a volunteer in the community where I stay. I was introduced to embroidery by Caren and so far I have improved in most of my skills and am glad. Thank you.

 

 

 

Rhino by Spencer Moraa

I am aged 21 years, the second born in a family of six comprising four children and two parents. I currently do volunteer work as I strive to support my parents in supporting our family. I recently joined the embroidery group and am happy to be a member. Thank you so much for your support.

 

 

Leopard by Imisa Concepta

I am 26 years old.  I am married with 3 kids – two girls and a boy. I am a Form 4 leaver without a job. l depend on  my husband who is also  struggling to make ends meet. With this project l have really appreciated you guys because at least I have been able to get soap, food for my kids. Please continue helping us with this project because it is of a big help to us. Thanks a lot.

 

 

Snake by Maureen Weingaya

I am 35 yrs. I am the 1st born in my family. I am a single mother with one son. I do community work, mentoring adolescents and young mothers.

 

 

Hyena by Abigael Kwamboka

I am a 25 year-old Kenyan citizen and the mother of three kids, two boys, one girl. I am happy to work with you since I don’t have a job and embroidery work has made me proud of myself. Through it I have gained a lot of experience. At this difficult time it has helped a lot. If possible I pray this work continues since it can create job opportunities for many youths. I really appreciate you all. Thanks in advance God bless you.

 

 

Buffalo by Susy Nasimiyu

I am aged 23 years old. I come from a humble background family. We are 8 children – a total of 10 people. I am the oldest. My education level is form four. My parents did not manage to pay for me for further studies because of the school fees of my younger siblings. Now I have a kid and my job is a casual laborer due to Covid 19. Life has changed totally because of unemployment. I am struggling to raise my child. Currently, I am still a student an want to go further in my studies. Currently I am living with my brother with his family.

 

 

Ostrich by Catherine Akinyi

I am 23 years old. I am married but with no kids. I like cooking and reading. This project has been good since I was introduced to it. I have learnt a lot. I really appreciate this project.

 

 

Lioness by Evelin Ndanu

I am 24 years old. I am married with one child, a girl. She is one year old. I am a housewife: I was introduced to embroidery by my mother and I love doing  it. Thank you so much for your support.

 

 

Giraffe by Caroline Barasa 

I am married with four children, two girls and two boys. I used to work in a school as a casual laborer but due to COVID 19 the school closed and I don’t know if I will be called back after it opens again. At the moment I am just indoors. Joining the Sister Artists was the best decision I made because it was therapeutic. Thank you so much for your support and God bless you all.

 

 

Lioness by Diana Nelima

I am a mother of one and a teacher by profession. I was working in a private school before COVID came in. I was introduced to the embroidery group by a friend. I  really enjoyed working with them. Thank you so much.

 

 

Thomson Gazelle by Florence Wangari

I am from the outskirts of Nairobi. I am a single mother of one boy. Since early March my job was affected by Covid-19 which left me jobless. I am still seeking for a job and have not yet got any job for the moment. Best regards.

 

 

 

Lion by Susan Nyambura

I reside in Gachie-Kiambu. I am married with 3 boys. Currently I am jobless and am still looking for a job. I am ready to work under minimal or no supervision. Thank you in advance. Best regards Susan.

 

 

Warthog by Everline Makungu

I was born 01/06/1996 – youngest in a family of nine. I am a single mother of one boy, three years old. I am jobless. I do clothes washing to earn a living and to support my kid and parents. I am glad to be in this project and hope it will continue because it gives me lots of support. Thank you and God bless you.

 

 

Impala by Elizabeth Ambetsa

I am a born-again Christian, married with three children, two boys and a girl. I am a tailor by profession. I was introduced to embroidery by a friend in 2020 and I love it since it’s perfecting my work.

 

 

Elephant by Harriet Njeri Kariuki

I am 22 years of age. I was born and am currently staying in Nairobi, Kangemi. I was raised by a single mum and am the first born of 3 children – 2 girls and 1 boy. I did embroidery first last year when we were working on the ICPD25 (Women’s World) quilt, which was a great eye-opener for me. I am so honored to work with this team again on the Sisters quilt. I have learnt a lot and acquired a new skill I never thought I’d ever have. I am looking forward to working with all of you and the team again.

 

 

Lion by Modester Makhungu Masambu

I am twenty-five years old. My tribe is Luhya. Currently, I am staying in Kangemi, Westland sub-County, Nairobi County. I am a humble, hard-working and caring. I like networking, traveling and doing embroidery. I am a partial orphan. My mother is called Regina Saibai. I have five sisters and two brothers. I finished form four in the year 2014, and attained a grade of C- minus. I edntered the East Africa Institute of Certified Studies College and studied for a diploma in Social Work and Community Development. I graduated last December. I was introduced to  embroidery last year in September by Caren Mbayaki. Currently,  I am volunteering at Afya Jijini Dreams Program as a mentor. I am  married to Emmanuel Ngowa.He is a trainer of acrobats and ltavels to four countries. I thank Christine for training us and also thank the owner of the embroidery project for helping us financially and providing moral support especially during this time of Covid 19.

 

 

Rhino by Louise Tsindoli

I am 41 years gold and earn a living by selling handmade liquid soap. I am a mother of one son, whose name is Marques Malesia. Marques is 13 years old and he is in grade seven. He likes playing soccer and marbles. I am grateful to learn new skills. Thank you.

 

 

Zebra by Anne Wairimu Kihiu

I was born on the 21st July 1994. l am the only daughter amongst 3 children in our family, being the second born. l have a younger brother who looks up to me as his mentor and role model. I have gone through the 8-4-4 system and acquired a degree in Business and Information Technology from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. I graduated in 2017 but did not manage to secure a job. Along the way l have also managed to get other certificates from other educational institutions and am still in school doing a diploma in Catering and Accommodation. I am multi-talented, and can manage to do many things perfectly. I am also a hard worker, artistic, and a perfectionist. My creativity has enabled me to open up a small bakery and practice more art especially in cake decorating. This puts me in my better place especially during this hard time of Covid 19.

 

 

Kangaroo by Lydia Awino

I am working as a CHV (Community Health Volunteer) in Kangemi where I live, I am a mother of four kids – 2 girls and 2 boys. I am the fourth born in a family of 9 – 6 girls and 3 boys. I was born and grew up in Siaya where my home is but am currently married in Migori County.

 

 

Kangaroo by Rachel Afundi

Hello, I was born in 1975 and living with a physical disability. I am a single mother of two children. The first, 14, is in form 2. The second, 5. is in PP1. I do embroidery in the house to earn a living. I do voluntary work on Gender-Based Violence in the community. During Covid, there have been a lot of challenges e.g. paying rent and buying food. But I get a little support from well-wishers. And that’s how I survive. Thank you.

 

 

Giraffe by Penninah Muthoni

   

Wild Cat by Lucia Moraa

I am 19 yrs old, brought up by my both parents. I have three sisters and one brother. Joining the embroidery team, I have gained a lot. We started from far and thanks to our supporters they have really helped me. If it were not for them I wouldn’t be able to gain more in my career. Thank You so much. God bless you.

 

 

Peacock by Diana Adeya

Hi, I am a mother of two daughters. My first daughter is 5 years and the other is two and a half. I was born on October 15, 1994.  I am the first born in our  family of 4 siblings. I am a community health volunteer and advocate against gender based violence. We sensitize the community to reduce the rate of GBV. I am very happy and grateful for everything. It has been a wonderful experience working with everyone and learning new skills. The project has really empowered me a lot. Thank you all. I am looking forward to working again with you. Thanks Caren and our sponsors. God bless you all.

   

Crested Cranes by Meriline Ingaso

Hi! I was born 17/12/1996. I am an orphan, a mother of two kids, all girls. The first, 6, is in baby class. The second, 3, is not yet in school. I earn a living as a mentor. I do voluntary work to empower girls on how to protect themselves in this pandemic. There have been a lot of challenges e.g. buying food and paying rent. But I get a little support from washing cloth to people. That’s how I survive.

 

 

Hippo by Jackeline Kamene

l stay with my mother, my two sisters and my two brothers. I am a mother of one boy. I like traveling and was introduced to embroidery in 2020. l like doing it.