trading fair in dar es salaam

by racheliliadis

Jane, from Mabinti, a project that works to support women with Fistula

Sitting here under my little mosquito net, preparing for bed, it’s hard to believe that two whole weeks have come and gone. I hate to use words like “life-changing” because what is sometimes coined the latter, is sometimes forgotten and dismissed once at home. But this experience has truly been nothing less than that. It has changed my life. And I will never see work, family, business, and life through the same lens.

The projects we visited the past two weeks are rebuilding lives, developing leaders, and instilling dignity in the lives of worthy women. The true reason I’m passionate about at Karama and why I’m eager to share their stories with women, like them, back at home.

My heart expands. These stories are of women who had the courage to persevere and fight the social stigma of AIDS, fistula, and severe physical disability. And because of their determination, they didn’t loose hope when all life seemed to fight against them. And now, they are bright lights in their communities working hard to provide for themselves and their families.

My mouth utters nothing but praises to the God of creation for providing, loving, and taking complete care of His beloved.

But before I leave for America, I’d like to share the stories of three more artisan groups we had the privilege of visiting during our my last few days in Dar es Salaam. The first, set in a modest white building below a rolling green hill and bright blue sky, the Nuru Center.

The Nuru Center employs disabled adults and children to make beautiful handcrafted items, such as paper bead jewelry. Unfortunately, we were only able to visit for about 30 minutes, but they were bright moments, filled with much love.

a mother, daughter bond, wrapped in love

lovely faces, working hard despite all odds

my salvation comes from the Lord

Marvelous Flotea

On Tuesday, we had the honor of visiting another project called Marvelous Flotea. Marvelous started with a young girl’s dream to bring hope and sustainability into her community through job creation. Now, it has grown to employ around 200 workers. This bright Tanzanian woman’s path to providing others with a future is truly exemplary.

a table fit to create

Flotea helping to guide a seamstress.

she's too stunning for words.

so much beauty and goodness in here


Fistula. An unfamiliar term to me, and many Americans, as it’s simply not a common problem back home. Yet, this stigmatizing and debilitating injury is affecting the lives of thousands of women across Tanzania. But what is it? Fistula is a tear in the tissues of the birth canal, due to prolonged or obstructed labor, which leaves women incontinent – constantly leaking urine and feces – and almost always results in the death of the baby.

Fistulas are very common in third-world countries and though they used to be common in the West, women in developed countries are now given C-sections long before a fistula could become an issue. Therefore, most people in the West have never even heard of this term.

Women with this condition are often rejected by their community and are thrust into a life of isolation, shame, and humiliation. Though it can usually be treated easily with surgery, most women who suffer from this condition do not have that knowledge nor do they have access to such treatment. Fistula is therefore often a life-long debilitating condition which acts to destroy the lives of women all across Africa.

And that’s where Mabinti changes lives. They train and employ women who suffer from this condition, helping them find the proper medical care, including surgery, and jobs … not to mention in a peaceful, still, and gorgeous work environment. It’s quite amazing.

a teacher's hand

Adorable beaded dolls sharing a bit about their personal stories ...

beautiful jane

working hard around every corner

A few personal favorites:

i'm obsessed with these! such beautiful patchwork!

Just might have picked up some of these ... oh, i'm in love

These so remind me of Europe! Love love love them!

And because I know you’re DYING to know how to screen print:

Step one:

Choose screen print

Step two:

Paint over screen

Step three:

Step four:

remove screen

Step five:

And voila! A fun, beautiful pattern!

Thanks for taking the time to let me share their stories with you. And if you have a moment, stop and pray for these women. Pray for health, strength, courage, and a continued income. For God’s heart is beating loudly and His presence is consuming these women and projects. Hallelujah!