I'd snooped around Amani ya Juu's site long before they reached out to me a few weeks ago to tell me they enjoyed Style Wise. They use vibrant Kitenge textiles in a lot of their clothing and I love a good print. When Emily over at Amani asked me if I'd like to review something for the blog, however, I decided to go full on practical and get myself a serving spoon set.
Daniel and I, despite being grownups for awhile now, had never bothered to go out and purchase anything suitable for serving salads and we'd been forcing our poor dinner guests to clumsily grip together two regular pieces of silverware all this time. The multi-colored grain and rich smell of olivewood makes this Olive Branch Spoon Set really special (and decidedly more impressive than tiny forks for serving salad).
Amani ya Juu, which means "peace from above" in Swahili, is a faith based sewing and resource center that seeks to provide a place of peace and restoration to their employees, primarily women escaping war and political turmoil. Their network extends to 6 countries. They're also a member of the Fair Trade Federation, which ensures that their business practices are just and transparent.
I asked Emily to clarify a few things about the process:
How do women get involved in the Amani program?
Women get involved in many ways. It's often by word of mouth from a neighbor, friend, or family member who has been through the program. Sometimes they are referred to us from other organizations who provide some sort of immediate assistance but not jobs or training. We have a waiting list, and when there is space in our program, a woman comes in and interviews. The interview isn't necessarily based upon skill, in fact - usually it is based upon need.
Your program has several locations. Are women employed at each location? How is the organization organized?
Yes, women are employed at each Amani location (and a handful of men, too!). The largest has close to 100 (Kenya) and the smallest has 16 (Uganda)
Many women working at our oldest and largest center in Kenya are refugees from other countries hoping to return home. As women returned to their homelands, they often carry Amani with them. For some, encountering peace at Amani has left such an impression that they developed a vision for an Amani in their home community. Through these women, Amani has established a presence of peace in five African nations. As Amani has grown from one location to a network of centers, each Amani center is locally registered and independently managed with support from an international leadership team.