This week we’ll introduce you to the founders of Women of Faith bag: Liza and Odilia. They are Dutch students from Rotterdam that traveled to Kenya, where they got inspired by the culture and the people. They launched a NGO in order to create a group of motivated Masai women – who call themselves ‘Women of Faith’ – and their families. The artisan women make and sell unique bags with beautiful African prints. Through their NGO, Liza and Odilia aim to make a sustainable change for the lives of those artisan women and that of their children.
What is the story behind Women of Faith bag?
Within the extremely primitive and rough lifestyle of the Masai tribe, the ‘Women of Faith group’ exists out of motivated, eager-to-learn and mentally strong women that want to make a change. These women often come from exceptionally tough families with husbands that beat them like their cattle until they can't walk away anymore and most of them have the task to care for their 10 children without having any money.
Those women believe that if they group up they can achieve more and therefore faith will be in favor of them. Liza and Odilia tell us: "We taught them how to make unique bags out of the beautiful and colorful prints that they wear. In addition, we explaine them how profits will eventually pay for the education of their own children. Therefore, the ‘Women of Faith bag’ stands for self-earned education, which we believe is the key to a sustainable and better future".
That's a wonderful Story! Can you tell us more?
During our stay in Kenya we were amazed by the beautiful fabrics. We decided to buy those that we thought would be popular in Europe and teach the women how to sew the bags together. Some of the women don't know how to handle one of the three sponsored hand sewing machines, so we assigned them the task to make the labels where they sew beads in the shape of ‘Women of Faith Kenya'.
Why did you choose to craft handmade bags?
We make unique bags with African prints. The simplicity of the design enables the women to produce them without our help. Since most of these women have never experienced any form of education, reading, writing or even speaking the national language is not an option. Looking after the cattle or making traditional Masai jewelries is what they do most of their time. The women use African fabrics, cotton and beads.
What sort of difficulties do you face?
The communication between different cultures and people might cause some difficulties, especially when you are also physically extremely separated.
What inspired you to create the collection?
We get inspiration from the African prints and the colorful Masai women.
What is the best part of your job?
That we can truly make a change by helping the women and children to get a brighter future. Because we are in direct contact with the women, we have an advantage over other NGOs.
What is your dream for Women of Faith Bag?Our dream is to help as many people as possible to get a brighter future. We started at the Women of Faith group in Kenya, but there are more groups and countries where people live in bad circumstances. If we can give them a job and let them handcraft goods out of local materials and sell it on the global market, we can provide them with the opportunity to get a sustainable income and better life for themselves and their children.
How do you think Discovered can help you realizing your dreams?
Discovered can help us to sell to a global audience. The more bags we sell, the more days we can get a schoolbus with Masai children driving to school! And next to that the women will earn money to buy food and get a better life.