Every African Bag Has A Story:

Both Sides of the Sea

Updates from Mary Ogalo, GBP Kenya Project Coordinator

Photo of Mary holding GBP Kenya NGO Certificate of Registration.

Salome, is now a grandmother. Her daughter gave birth to a healthy baby girl on 31st December.

Our sewer trainees are nearing completion of their training this March 2013. They have been attending a ‘one day a week’ sewers training and Women Cycle of Life training since March 2012 at the Global Bag Project workshop. Upon their graduation they will receive a micro–loan in the form of a sewing machine. They are now working to produce a business plans.

Salome, one of the makers of African Bags, with Carla in the GBP sewing room.

New dreams for Global Bag Project — Under the umbrella of GBP Kenya, we are launching a leadership and life skills development (dubbed County Girls Caucus) project for rural girls. Through this project we intend to reach out to girls age 13–23 through trainings aimed at helping them develop a strategic plan for their lives.

This idea has been developed to help young women living in the rural counties to start planning their lives early and therefore avoid falling in pitfalls experienced later in life. Through this new initiative, we aim to reach and empower girls when they are young before they get derailed. As a way of gathering information on what the girls really need, we are asking vulnerable women in Nairobi what they wish they knew at teenage that could have prevented the circumstances they now contend with in life. Our goal is to deal with the primary causes of poverty at grass–root level.

This is Benta in a wrap-around Kanga cloth. She 
represents the youth of rural Kenya.

I am so motivated to pursue this dream and minister to God's people in this way. I need prayer as I work through mobilising rural community members to support this venture. I also need prayers as I prepare curriculum and training materials for the project. We hope to have the first County Girls Caucus in April 2013 in Homabay county in western part of Kenya where 38% of girls end up being pregnant at teenage or marry early.

Please join us as we venture into this expanded work of rooting out the cycle of poverty in a specific region of rural Kenya. If you’d like to know more and how you can be involved, email info@globalbagproject.org.

Updates from Carla Boelkens, Global Bag Project Director

Thank you for all who supported us in 2012 to sell African Bags and help African women make a difference.

Thank you to all who supported us in 2012 with your bag purchases, home parties, church events and prayers. It was another year of exciting ventures in Kenya and here in the States.

Thanks, especially to Inspire 180, The Chapel and St. Martha’s Ministry! GBP worked in partnership with each of these ministries to provide our small backpack bags and wristlet clutch bags to Inspire 180 to support their partner, St. Martha’s Ministry in Nairobi, Kenya through bags sales at all 8 of The Chapel’s Chicagoland church campuses. It was a unique collaboration that brought needed work for the women who sew GBP bags at St. Martha’s and the Global Bag Project.

Carla Boelkens, Mary Nduta, Mary Ogalo with the Kazuri women - African Bags

In November, I spent 2 weeks in Nairobi working with Mary Ogalo, GBP Project Coordinator Kenya. I spent 2 weeks in Nairobi working with Mary Ogalo, GBP Project Coordinator Kenya, spending time with some of the women working with GBP, working with the GBP Kenya Board of Directors, and visiting some full–time missionary friends and colleagues. After working hard for 4 days, Mary said, "we should go to the cinema". What?, I asked? One of her mentors told her it’s necessary to incorporate Kingdom Play in the work for the Kingdom. I liked the sound of that! I had never been to the "cinema" in Nairobi. So, we finished our work early that day and headed to the movie theater. It really didn’t matter what movie was saw, it was another adventure for Mary and I to experience together. We are more than colleagues, we are friends; girlfriends who go to the movies together.

The highlight was an outing with Mary Ogalo, Mary Nduta and the other women to Kazuri Beads. The mission of Kazuri is to provide and sustain employment opportunities for disadvantaged members of Kenyan society.

Currently, Kazuri Beads employs over 300 women to make beautiful handmade jewelry and pottery. The factory is located near Africa International University (AIU) where GBP rents the school’s sewing room.

Mary Ndula at Kazuri Beads - African Bags

Our drive took just 10 minutes to go from AIU to Kazuri Beads. When we met the tour guide in the door of the factory, the women's eyes were wide open with curiosity and amazement… "Beautiful", "amazing" were just some of the English words I heard as we walked through the factory to observe the handiwork of the Kazuri women. There was a lot of conversation in Swahili I didn’t understand, but the smiles and looks on their faces told me they were taking in the experience.

Afterward, one of the women, Jane, told me she was so happy the Kazuri women had jobs because "they’re just like me". It gave Jane and the others hope to think GBP could one day bring meaningful work to 300 other women, just like them.

What about you? As a friend of GBP, what is your dream for this work? We'd love to hear from you to work together; to pray together about God’s purposes through GBP. Contact me at carla@globalbagproject.org to start the dialog.

New Shipment coming!

A friend of our ministry, Joanie Woodall will be returning from Nairobi at the end of the month. She has graciously agreed to bring back a shipment of GBP bags so we can restock our shelves.

Go to our store to order bags for spring birthday’s, wedding showers, Mother’s Day and even one for yourself. We can’t wait to see the new Kanga fabric Mary Ogalo ordered from Mombasa, Kenya.

Voluntourism Trip September 2013

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!

We are going back to Africa this 2013 and taking a voluntourism group with us.

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

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. Our Mainstay Ministries office phone is 630–293–4500. If nobody’s in to take your call, leave a message and we will return your call.