Wednesday, November 30, 2011

heshima kenya

I want to tell you about an amazing organization helping a local community half a world away. NY Times' intrepid reporter and co-author of the incredible book "Half the Sky" (which you'll learn more about in a later post), Nick Kristof, tweeted a story last weekend about Chicagoans selling scarves to support refugee girls in Kenya. You can read the whole story here: "Shop Local, Help the World."

This holiday season, buy someone a gift of one of these gorgeous handmade scarves and help support Heshima Kenya, a nonprofit organization that provides shelter and comprehensive support services for east African refugee girls in Nairobi, Kenya. Girls served by Heshima make the scarves as part of the organization's Maisha Collective, a program that teaches business skills to girls who have completed tailoring and financial literacy training. All profits from the sales of the scarves are returned directly to Collective participants as weekly wages and support of their ongoing engagement in Heshima Kenya's education and shelter programs.

The Maisha Collective, a project of Heshima Kenya, empowers refugee girls and young women from DR Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Burundi with economic opportunities to rebuild their lives with peace and dignity. By managing a business collective that designs and produces a line of unique hand-dyed scarves, participants gain life-long business and marketing skills that develop their confidence and prepare them for future independence. Of the 60 girls currently served by Heshima, 18 participate in the collective and 10 of them are now self-reliant. Excuse me while I editorialize for just a moment, but I think that is amazing.

Heshima Kenya recently partnered with The Girl Effect on a fundraising campaign, and I think by now you know how I feel about the movement and the awesome potential and importance of empowering girls. If you want to help, but don't want to purchase a scarf, you can make a donation directly to Heshima Kenya and help girls lift up their own lives and the world around them. If you live in the Chicago area, you can also purchase a scarf at Flourish Studios, 3020 N. Lincoln Chicago, Illinois (I am adoring the Flourish Studios website right now, too, by the way. You should check it out.)

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