Coming off the plane from the jungles of Bali into the Kenyan bush offers a dramatic, surreal juxtaposition to your senses. I've been away from Kenya for almost 2 years and it's wonderful to get back to the sun, dry heat and energy of Kenya.
I met up with the Ubuntumade team which handles the production and QC of the Love Is Project bracelets and we headed into the depths of Masai-land, about a 3 hours off-road dusty drive, where we came upon a valley called Inyoyorri, which means "Fertile place that is loved." A very apt place for the Love bracelets to be made!
The Masai mums seated under the acacia trees greeted me with "Naisula!" which translates to "Winner" or "Champion" in Masai. My Masai name was bestowed upon me two years ago by Abby, my Masai friend who sampled the first bracelet. She thought the name was appropriate after the LOVE bracelets created 400 jobs for her peers. After showing the women my Love Is Project books, I explained how their bracelets are worn around the world and they are helping spread more love while they are also simultaneously providing for their families.
I passed out a rainbow range of converse I hand carried from the states to Kenya. The ladies got a kick (pun intended) out of beading the shoes in fun prints like giraffe and zebra prints along with traditional Masai patterns for the Love Is Project photo shoot on Thursday & Friday.
The ladies enjoy one another's company and the Love Is Project helps foster a sense of community for them, congregating under the acacia trees, beading, laughing & sharing stories over chai.Love is hard work. Seeing the effort of the Ubuntumade team in action, managing the production and quality control of those bracelets, and the hours of work it takes the Masai to bead them, gives me appreciation for all the work that is need to create high quality LOVE bracelets. On average, it takes our artisan’s 4 hours to make each bracelet. The fastest are able to make 5 a day, otherwise 2 is the norm. They make bracelets in between their other chores such as of taking care of the kids, home tasks, cooking and other side hustle gigs.
Stay tuned for next week’s edition. I travelled to Maai Mahiu, the headquarters of Ubuntumade to visit the Mailika mums in their new sewing factory and reconnect with old team members on Valentine’s Day!