Two years ago, the women of the Ngando women's peacemaking group, an empowerment project in a slum of Nairobi, used to sit on a blanket and make their beaded handicrafts under the shade of a tree in the church courtyard. But with the arrival of a new store in a converted container, proudly advertising their wares along the busy Ngong Road, the group has blossomed. The peacemaking circle has doubled in size and implemented a thriving "table banking" system, providing temporary loans to up to five women per week.
There's one difference: You may not see them dancing for the customers.
Previously, customers who purchased an array of beaded work from the women were met with exclamations of joy, ululations and traditional dancing. The women were thrilled beyond belief that their items were selling.
But now they have a brisk business from their new store with an inviting, shaded balcony on a busy thoroughfare. They find themselves hosting more visitors interested in the peacemaking program, and selling many more handmade goods, in addition to grains and vegetables for their neighbors. While the women are appreciative of their customers, the transactions longer provoke the same reaction because they are much more commonplace.
Global Sisters Report first visited the Women's Peacemaking project in Ngando in January 2015. The Ngando project is one of the local chapters of a countrywide initiative in which the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya's Justice and Peace Commission has trained more than 500 women, who completed a summer-long conflict resolution and economic empowerment training.