amani ya juu

giveaway: $25 Amani ya Juu Gift Card

Did you see Friday's post about fair trade organization, Amani ya Juu? If not, make sure to read my review of their beautiful Olive Branch spoon set and then head back here to read more about the company and enter a giveaway.

(Coincidentally, Friday's post fell on Daniel's and my fifth wedding anniversary. We didn't realize it then, but it's traditional to give your beloved something made of wood on your fifth anniversary, so it was rather fitting that I chose to review the most beautiful wooden spoons on that day.)

And now for the last two interview questions and responses:

Do employees "graduate" from Amani or do you find that many of them stay on long term?

Amani is committed to holistic development. Women gain experience in stitching, quality control, purchasing, bookkeeping, management and design. As new women enter the program they are mentored in quality workmanship with strong emphasis on ethical business practices and harmonious relationships with people of different backgrounds. 
Due to the circumstances affecting marginalized women, the ladies who come through our doors are in a very transient stage of life. They often move to to another city or return to their home country. Those who stay often move up in the ranks, training others, begin to oversee a certain department, or earn an administrative position. Some receive loans from us and start their own small businesses. Others apply for our scholarship program and further their education.

Besides making a purchase, what are the best ways for us to support Amani ya Juu?

Spread the word. Following us and sharing about us on social media is huge.  Introducing us to new people means more opportunities for consistent, sustainable livelihood for the ladies in Africa. Signing up for our e-newsletter blasts is also a great way to stay connected if you think you might want to purchase from us in the future (Christmas is only 165 days away!).  
Volunteer.  Host an Amani Box Party in your home, church, school or other community event.  Box Parties play a vital role in sustaining the women of Amani and in spreading God’s peace in your community.  Contact: 
Pray.  [If you're the praying sort,] join with us in praying that God’s peace will reign in Amani communities everywhere. 
Donate.  Support Amani’s work in extending God’s peace beyond her walls.  Donate online.
Amani is offering a $25 gift card to one lucky reader. Just enter via the form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The contest will run until 11:59 pm this Sunday, July 20, 2015. 
Open to US readers only.

Amani ya Juu: Olive Branch Spoon Set

amani ya juu

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).

olive branch spoon set

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. 

olive branch spoon set

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.  

If you're anxious to learn more about Amani ya Juu and maybe get your hands on your own set of serving spoons (or a new skirt or bag), make sure to check back Monday for another post + a giveaway! 

Visit Amani ya Juu on facebook, instagram, and twitter.