Empowering women one bag at a time.
To Move With Speed
"Wamasaa" means to move with speed in Swahili. The women decided on this name because that is what they hope for for the lives of their children, themselves and everyone in their village
From Kenya to California
Jess Luoma and Soo-Lin Hansen were both been serving the poor in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco when they met a Kenyan woman, Regina. Through their friendship, they found out about what her sister had started in her village-- what we now call Wamasaa Project. Because of it's growth in Kenya, they decided to expand the market to San Francisco and beyond. Because people who make more than $2 a day are considered rich in comparison to the rest of the world, they decided that they would ask people to start considering where they spend their money. Money has the power to affect cultural and societal change and it also has the power to perpetuate injustice. Jess and Soo-Lin believe that people are eager to give back and that purchasing these bags is a practical platform.
"As a Christian, I feel it is our God given responsibility to help those who are less fortunate than us. By empowering these women, we are not only touching their lives but the lives of their children and the community as a whole." -Nancy Wamaitha
Wamasaa Project was started by Nancy Wamaitha after a trip to the Kitui region in Kenya and was amazed by their skill. They were creating these baskets, but were having trouble selling their merchandise, so she helped to find a market in Kenya to start selling.
The Kitui region in Ukambani, Kenya is one of the most arid parts of the country. This leaves the people with little harvest & barely enough to feed & support their families. When the rain does finally come, often times it floods, displacing crops and sweeping away homes. So when there is no harvest, the women weave bags.
The Wamasaa Project has grown immensely in the last few years and now over forty women are behind the weaving of these beautiful bags. These women are from 23-55 years old. Some are widows as a result of the HIV scourge in Africa, others have taken in orphaned grandchildren, and many have been abandoned by their husbands who have left them in their rural homes to supposedly look for jobs in the city. The profits from these bags go directly to keeping children in school (they are the future after all!) and feeding the women and their families.
Each basket/bag takes approx. 2 days to make. The bags are all mostly made out of sisal and woolen string. The leather is purchased from far away slaughter houses and is handworked by men in the community. Each purchase will go directly towards these women to provide for education, HIV medicine, food and other basic needs in order to improve their quality of life as beautiful, strong, and independent human beings and to invest in the next generation.