Asante Network is currently assisting women´s groups in East Africa. The women who range in age from 20 - 60 are married and single mothers, widows, students, and grandmothers. These enterprising artisans all have similar goals. They want their children and grandchildren to have a better life! They know that education for their children is the roadmap out of poverty to a more prosperous future.
The women enjoy working together and this gathering time yields many benefits. The primary benefit is that meeting in unison provides a "social" outlet. Collectively they learn new skills, critique each others work, solve common challenges, exchange ideas for new products and support the goals of the group.
In most cases, life is difficult. Their homes are small, usually two rooms and in some cases built by the women themselves. Around their houses may be small plots of land where they grow their own food. Some may own a goat, cow, pig, or a few chickens. Most have no running water or electricity. Water has to be carried from the communal well and gathering firewood for cooking is a daily chore. Children are trained early in life to help with these ongoing tasks.
And yet, as difficult as circumstances are the women find much joy in life. They laugh often, sing joyfully and are willing to share what they have with others. Their reservoir of hope is inspirational.
By purchasing their artisan crafts, you are helping them earn money to feed, shelter, clothe, and educate the people for whom they are responsible, including many HIV ⁄ AIDS orphans. Asante (thank you in Swahili) for purchasing products that make a difference!
To make a tax deductable donation:
Make Check Payable to Asante Network and mail to:
5001 Arctic Blvd. Unit #2
Anchorage, AK 99503
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The city of Moshi and village of Mwika, Tanzania,near the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro, are home to Miichi Women's Group. Mt. Kilimanjaro and the abundant animal and plant life of the region are reflected in their beautiful crafts. These are the women who design, batik and tie-dye stunning textiles and textile products. Their handiwork includes waxed and soft picture batiks as well as uniquely designed fabrics for sewing and quilting. The group seamstresses sew table linens, bed linens and clothing. The clothing, African and western style, includes floor and street length dresses, blouses, shirts and one of a kind women's jackets. All are of 100% cotton, grown and milled in Tanzania.
Ketumbeine, located in northeastern Tanzania, is home to this group of Maasai artisans. These talented, fiercely proud women are the crafters of beautiful bracelets, earrings, necklaces, napkin rings, Christmas ornaments, clergy stoles and Essos-beaded, collar necklaces. The art of beading is part of their heritage and culture. Their lifestyle, though no longer nomadic, still revolves around livestock. During the 5-month dry season when there is no grass, there is likewise no milk for the children and many simply stop growing until it rains. Sale of their crafts has become a critical lifeline for these women and their families.
Three small villages, located at the base of the Rwenzori Mountains (also called the 'Mountains of the Moon'), western Uganda, are home to these basket weavers. The weavers use village grown plants and roots to make the dyes for the baskets. The results of using natural dyes are warm earth tone colored baskets. The baskets, place mats and hot pads are woven from millet straw, palm raffia, papyrus and banana leaf fiber. Rwenzori Mountain baskets include a range of shapes and sizes from mini baskets with lids to large plant holders. An ongoing delight for these women is to design and weave innovative and useful baskets.
Several different women´s cooperatives are members of the Neepu Women´s Group. Two are located in the Kampala area and three in villages near Nyamabuga Parish, west of Fort Portal, Uganda. These artisans are basket weavers. They utilize native raw materials such as banana leaves and fiber, raffia, sisal, reeds, millet and millet stalks, papyrus and palm leaves to create their baskets. Their basket designs are intricate and varied, reflecting local flora and fauna. Colors of the baskets are diverse, some utilizing the natural color of the resource, i.e. banana leaf, while others are bright and colorful, the hues obtained by the use of commercial dyes.