Every Africa Bag Has A Story:

Salome’s Story

Salome with Baby Eunice
Salome with Baby Eunice

I first heard of Salome when Mary Ogalo, Project Coordinator of Global Bag Project Kenya, reported that she had appeared at the sewing workshop on the campus of Africa International University to continue her training - just four days after giving birth to a daughter, little Eunice.

Salome had walked a mile each way because of the thought of losing the opportunity to be trained that could possibly change her life for the better. She was separated from her husband and supporting her five children - a girl of 19 years; another girl, 16; a boy, 13; a girl, 9; and now this newborn. Living in a one-room shanty in the slum of Dagoretti, she worked washing clothes, but the work was irregular and she received the equivalent of about $1.85 per day - not enough to sustain the life of her family.

Her courage and determination moved the tender heart of Mary Ogalo (a mom herself with three children). Mary told Salome that she could certainly take a maternity leave from her sewing lessons and that a place would be waiting for her when she was stronger. Mary collected food from friends on campus and drove Salome back home. Mary writes, "On that morning, Salome gave her life to the Lord on arrival at her house. She felt the love of Christian community at the lowest point of her life. She wanted to have Christ too! It was such a joy for us to experience a birth of a new relationship between Salome and Jesus in such an unusual circumstance."

This is the reason we help to support the work of the Global Bag Project, women are given training and work to enable them to lift themselves out of poverty, but they also meet Jesus, who changes the poverty of the soul.

Since returning from maternity leave, Salome has demonstrated exceptional gifts in learning basic sewing skills and helping to design new Africa bags. She has also mentored new bag-makers Nelly and Awino. Her confidence has been growing. She now comes to work with her baby, Eunice, strapped on her back in a kanga-cloth sling. "My life has changed," she reports. "I have income to buy food and pay school fees for my children."

Furthermore, Salome is planning to build a house: "I try to save some money I earn through GBP. I have been able to save and buy 5 iron sheets. I came to know the Lord as my Saviour and I now have a church fellowship. I hope to grow in my salvation and also raise my children in godly ways. We pray and read the Bible. ... I would want to tell more people to buy bags-so I can sew more, earn more and build a house where I can live with my children."

Will you buy a bag to give work to Salome and other women like so her to help them feed their family, but also to fulfill their dreams...like building a house?

Karen Mains, Executive Director, Global Bag Project

Cathie's Story

Cathie Clark for Global Bag Project.

Cathie Clark for Global Bag Project.

Cathie Clark first met Karen Mains, Executive Director of the Global Bag Project, at church. She tells the story this way: "I heard a woman erupting in laughter that sounded like it came out of her feet and through her mouth. I went right up to her and told her, 'I don't know who you are, but I'd love to meet you.'" That was 20 years ago. Fast-forward to 2008, when Karen invited Cathie to be in one of 14 focus groups she conducted in developing the GBP reusable Africa bags.

As the former business-owner of The Sea Captain's Lady, a retail import store in Geneva, Illinois, Cathie's feedback in the focus group was invaluable. Her eye for quality, creative marketing and passion to help women in Kenya start their own businesses has really helped move the project along here in the U.S. office for the past 18 months. From fulfilling website orders to traveling to trade shows to setting up bag displays, Cathie generously and always with a smile, a hug and an encouraging word gives her time, resources and talents to help expand the GBP mission.

Cathie carries her Africa bags everywhere and she wonders why more people don't have them. "It's sad that we don't realize we are keepers of the earth. We need to care about our neighbors and our environment."

Join Cathie in carrying your GBP Africa bag every time you go to the grocery store, take lunch to work, or carry your books, Bible, iPad or laptop. She wants you to know the GBP bags she's modeling in the photo, she's owned for two years. She washes them regularly, and they're still as sturdy and bright as they were when she purchased them.


Aprons are good alternative for Africa Bags.Aprons are in style.

The GPB sewers have developed a new product...aprons! Our friends in Kenya are consummate recyclers. They are ingenious at making practical use out of everyday items. So, it was no surprise they came up with the idea to use the extra material from the Kanga cloth to make aprons! If you haven't noticed, aprons are in style...again. They're in all the specialty stores. You can have a one-of-a-kind kanga-cloth apron for $25. We don't have them on the website yet, but give us a call at 630-293-4500 or e-mail carla@globalbagproject.org to order yours today.


Sherri with Laptop Bags
Sherry with Laptop Bags

Mary Ogalo, the GBP Kenya Project Coordinator, has come up with a new design we're really excited about: Laptop Bags. The cost of the computer bag is $35. They are made in various African animal prints, padded on the sides and bottom of the bag and zippered at the top. This is another gift option for birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving and even for Christmas. So give us a call and place your advanced order now! 630-293-4500 or e-mail carla@globalbagproject.org

National Watermelon Day

Global Bag Project reusable Africa bags are large and strong enough to hold a watermelon
Our Reusable Africa Bags are large and strong enough to hold a watermelon.

On August 3, the GBP U.S. office opened our doors to celebrate Watermelon Day. Yes, National Watermelon Day. With the tagline The Global Bag Project reusable African shopping bags are large and strong enough to hold a watermelon, we invited our office-building neighbors to the GBP showroom for free watermelon and iced tea, enticing them to contribute to our cause by purchasing a GBP Africa bag. All our visitors were genuinely interested in meeting us and hearing the stories of the women we know and love working hard each day to provide for their families. Next year...April 22, National Jelly Bean Day!?!

Party In A Box

We'll provide all that you need to host a Global Bag Project party or to add a mission or humanitarian aspect to your event.
Host a Global Bag Project party or to add a mission or humanitarian aspect to your event.

National Watermelon Day is over this year, but perhaps there's another event, holiday or celebration you'd like to showcase Global Bag Project to your neighbors, friends or family. Recently, one couple had a table display of GBP bags at their Annual Summer Celebration and, without a presentation, sold $400 worth of beautiful GBP Africa bags. This December, another woman invited GBP bags to her neighborhood Christmas brunch.

You don't have to be in the Chicago area to give your friends and family the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a woman affected by disease and poverty in Kenya. We'll provide all that you need to host a Global Bag Project party or to add a mission or humanitarian aspect to your event. E-mail carla@globalbagproject.org to schedule your party today!

Africa Journey—October 1-11, 2011

Join our Trip to Kenya and get to meet these Africa Bag sewers.
Join our Trip to Kenya and meet these Africa Bag sewers.

It's not too late to book your ticket to Nairobi, Kenya. Karen Mains will arrive in Nairobi on October 3 and depart for Chicago on October 11. If you'd like to meet her there and accompany her on this journey, e-mail us at info@globalbagproject.org or call the office at 630-293-4500.

The cost is $2500 (NOT including airfare). The package covers all land travel and meals in Nairobi and while on safari. Travel to Nairobi is on your own. Tips are also included in the fee as well as funds for giving gifts toward the projects we serve. It does not include traveler's insurance.

Call Karen Mains at Mainstay Ministries at 630-293-4500 or e-mail her at karenm@hungrysouls.org. Or, e-mail Carla Boelkens at carla@globalbagproject.org.