Every African HandBag Has A Story:

Both Sides of the Sea

Jane takes the fabric to the Kijiji Curio Shop at located on the AIU campus and sews while assisting customers of the Guest House.

Meet Jambi, or Jane as we know her. Jane came to the Global Bag Project in 2011 through Wairimu (pronounced, Wa–r–ee–moo), a friend from church. An accomplished seamstress, Wairimu teaches sewing skills to the new GBP Africa handbag sewers in the sewing room at Africa International University (AIU), our home base in Nairobi, Kenya. Once a week, or as funds allow, Wairimu gives sewing lessons to the four women who came to us in March after a voluntourism group donated 8 new sewing machines to GBP.

Jane told me she always wanted to sew, but she never had the opportunity. When Jane stopped going to school at 14 years old, she became a house worker. This provided her a home and a small wage. I do not know why Jane could not finish her schooling, but most likely her family did not have the money as Jane is the middle of 10 children.

Jane learned how to use the steam iron through the help of Valerie Bell.

Jane was married, but her husband died two years ago, leaving her to provide for her three children, James, now 19 and twins, Daniel and Christine, 15. Prior to coming to GBP last year, Jane worked in gardens to sell vegetables, but she did not hesitate to take the opportunity to learn to sew and fulfill her dream of becoming a seamstress.

Today, Jane walks 2 hours each way from her home to the GBP sewing room where she cuts fabric to make small kanga african handbags. She takes the fabric to the Kijiji Curio Shop located on the AIU campus and sews while assisting customers of the Guest House. But, on Wednesdays she spends the morning with the other women and Mary Ogalo, the GBP Project Coordinator in fellowship, prayer and bible study. This time with the other women is very special, not only to Jane, but to all the women when they encourage one another as single mothers, coworkers and friends.

Join us in October to meet Jane and the other women of the Global Bag Project. Take it from me, you’ll never be the same….I’m not!

The People You Don’t Have to Beg to Help

Every once in a while one of those wonderful people comes along and you don’t have to tell them what to do. Pam Hampton dropped past the Global Bag Project sewing room on a trip to Africa last April. She bought a bunch of african handbags for gifts to take home, left a donation, which our Kenya Coordinator, Mary Ogalo, applied toward a trip to Ngong Road, where she ordered metal product display shelves for our beautiful kanga–cloth African handbags.

When Pam returned to the States, she became a "friend" on the GBP Facebook page, and contacted Carla Boelkens, Stateside Director and made plans to hold a party, also arranging to take the leftover bags to the office of Medical Ambassadors, International for their weekly gathering and prayer time.

What a gal! We are deeply grateful for those people who step in and say, "Here’s what I can do."

- Carla Boelkens, Global Director of Global Bag Project

a photo of Pam Hampton visiting in Africa.Shelving in GBP sewing donated by Pam Hampton. Colorful African handbags are organized here. a painting Pam's daughter, Marissa, made from a photo Pam took in a village she visited.

Other Things to Say Thank You About

  • This last month, several donors contributed toward Mary Ogalo’s May salary. Thank you!*
  • Mary Ogalo introduced the Women’s Cycle of Life training on Wednesday mornings in the sewing room
  • Eight new sewing machines were purchased with gifts from a voluntourism group; sewing lessons have begun
  • Carla’s trip to Kenya in April was fully funded thanks to generous donations from her family, friends and other faithful supporters.
  • Help from friend, Cindy Judge, to start a church strategy marketing plan.
  • To Linda Scharaga for pitching in to create our "bag tags" and pillow forms for some sample "pillow bags". She is a gem!
  • To Cathie Clark, our retail consultant and order fulfillment gal brings us joy and laughter each time she comes into the office.
  • Following her trip to Kenya, Pam Hampton hosted a home party that brought in over $800. Thank you, Pam! This allows us to order more bags from the sewing groups in Nairobi.
  • The revamped Global Bag Project Web site downloads much faster than before.

Voluntourism Trip to Kenya in 2012

Your visit to Kenya will be a life-changing experience as you interface with this incredible country, its delightful animals and geography, and its most hospitable people. Never leave the same again!

Your visit to Kenya will be a life–changing experience as you interface with this incredible country, its delightful animals and geography, and its most hospitable people. Never leave the same again!

The Global Bag Project is sponsoring a Voluntourism (working and tourism combined) trip to Kenya. Our dates are: Arrive in Nairobi September 29, head for home October 9, 2012.

Here are a few of the things we expect to do:

Kenyan houses which need flipping.

The cost of the trip will be $3,500 for the land fee, not including air flight (a group of us will travel from Chicago together but we have discovered that others have mileage points, want to stop in London, or vacation on the way back in Italy so experience has taught us not to try to arrange this). This fee includes land costs—housing, most meals, in-country travel, flights to Massa Mara, safari as well as a stipend to spend capitalizing new bag products, shopping for fabrics for the sewing room, building an emergency fund for our African colleagues, purchasing sewing machines, or buying decorating items and bedding for the Kijiji Guest House guest rooms. You will be receipted for this stipend as a donation.

Contact Karen Mains at karen@hungrysouls.org. Our Mainstay Ministries office phone is 630–293–4500. If I am not in, leave a message and I will return your call.

Great Summer Shopping Ideas

Our new Bottle Bags will dress up any bottle of olive oil, wine, sparkling juice, etc

Our new Bottle Bags will dress up any bottle of olive oil, wine, sparkling juice, etc.

Our new Laptop Bags are a stylish way to safeguard your laptops or iPads.

Mary Ogalo, our Global Bag Project Kenya Project Coordinator, has come up with new designs we’re really excited about: Designer Kanga Cloth Laptop Bags and Bottle Bags! You can order kanga cloth laptop bags for your spouse, yourself, or your students in high school or college from any office supply store, but in our case each bag comes with a really unique custom design from Africa.

No two bags are identical! They are truly unique, made in various eye–catching African animal prints, padded on the sides and bottom of the bag and zippered at the top, to protect your laptop computer, but also give you an easy way to transport it around campus, work or school, or when traveling.

And how about stuffing a Global Bag Project bottle bag or mini–bag with ingredients and the recipe to make an easy dinner? Give them as hostess gifts or just a thank–you–for–being–my–friend gifts.