[By Jill Morley, Karama Co-Executive Director, Controller, Board Member]
Stephen, one of Karama's early artisan partners, expressed himself through creating jewelry. He established an upcycled brass jewelry business in the heart of Kibera, the largest urban slum in Africa. When Stephen died of typhoid, his wife Maureen continued his legacy and grew production volume to ensure ongoing work for her employees. From tragedy, Maureen has built a strong jewelry business and she has also invested in multiple businesses in Kibera, creating opportunities for others and stimulating economic growth.
Life anywhere, and specifically in Kenya, is full of twists and turns. Moving forward in the midst of them is a biblical and beautiful response to trauma and loss.
Wycliffe is one of the artisans who worked alongside Stephen and Maureen in the beginning. Since Stephen's passing, he's shouldered a position of leadership in the workshop, supervising daily artisan operations. Through partnership with Karama, Wycliffe has grown in his knowledge of pricing, team leadership and quality control. Under his guidance, five additional positions have been added to the business.
Wycliffe's creativity and ingenuity led to the design and creation of one of Karama's upcoming products - the "Turnaround Cuff."
Ten artisans collaborated on a recent order for Turnaround Cuffs which provided 440 hours worth of work for them.
In 2021, this group of artisans set a goal to save 20% from every order they received so they can purchase property in Kenya. During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the biggest difficulties was the challenge of paying rent without a steady stream of work and cash flow. In order to overcome this, they are saving to be able to own their own land and workshop. Karama Collection had the privilege of setting up this saving plan for them. The “Turnaround Cuff" Order” was the first order that deposited money into their savings plan.
In fashioning the Turnaround Cuff, what once was a simple piece of brass wire is turned into a beautiful piece of jewelry through hammering, heating, twisting, polishing and forming.
It is a reminder to us all that there is beauty in the twists and turns of our journey.
In this world, you will have tribulation, but take heart, I have overcome the world. John 16:33