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Sunday, 17 September 2017
Published in PROJECTS
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7 years ago, during our first trip to Lamu, Kenya, we met Lola Serra and Merche Cascajero.

We were following the project they had recently launched: AFRIKABLE.

It gathered a group of 10 women of different ethnicities and religions, with their children, who had important needs for subsistence. With Lola and Merche at the front, running on no more than their enthusiasm and total dedication.

At Free Design Bank, we feel hooked to this group of brave women from the beginning.

We wanted to provide our help and collaboration, from designing, by seeking methods and resources both in the design of products with improved commercialisation, always fair trade, and in the training and funding.

Amparo Balbastre 01

After these 7 years, the group has grown; more than 40 women and 100 children now live off the project. New facilities that have improved their life and work quality have been built.

Afrikable is more than an NGO. It’s a life project, which we fully share at Free Design Bank.

Today, you can feel the strength every single woman of the project transmits in every thank-you hug, in every word in Swahili, that don’t need translation because they strike deep in your heart.

During this last trip, we were very touched; we felt part of this beautiful project, in which, on a human level, we always receive more than we give.

Thanks Lola, thanks Merche.

 

Author: Amparo Balbastre , FREE DESIGN BANK Coordinator | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

Sunday, 17 September 2017
Published in PROJECTS
Written by

Once we saw the opportunity to set up this project together with Afrikable we did not hesitate. Almost in unison Amparo Balbastre, Carmen Gujarro and I thought that this was another one of those challenges Free Design Bank had to face. We talked to Merche Cascajero and Lola Serra and we all saw it clear, we would end the circle of needs; we would build the crafts workshop building that Afrikable had always needed, we would get new sewing machines and create a new collection of more attractive products, commercial products adjusted to the new technical possibilities of craftswomen.

The Free Design Bank team set off and many volunteer designers responded to our call, they were organised in three groups; one group would be in charge of design proposals that reused the plastic of all the water jugs consumed in Lamu, another group would propose exclusive sandal designs for the Maasai women group, the last group would work on proposals with Kanga and Kikoy fabrics. I assumed the leadership of the groups and projects, while Carmen was responsible for the management of the project and for refining the designs proposed by the volunteers; Amparo took care of the groups’ coordination and of creating or improving the prototypes’ patterns.

Manolo Bañó 01

Four months later, after many hours of work from both volunteer designers and the Free Design Bank leaders, the collection was ready to be produced by Afrikable’s groups of women… But, in which building? Truthfully, Merche and Lola moved quickly, on our arrival to Lamu we were surprised to see that the new sewing machines were set up and running, and above all that…The new workshop building was almost finished!!.

At Afrikable’s headquarters in Lamu we have spent three unforgettable weeks setting up the project, selecting the designs and assembling the machines, while Amparo trained the women on the use of the new industrial electric sewing machines. Those three weeks of close relations with the women of the project and their concerns have filled us with excitement, knowledge and strength to keep collaborating with Afrikable from the social design fundamentals that Free Design Bank represents for many years to come.

 

Author: Manolo Bañó, Manager of the FREE DESIGN BANK Social Design Project | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

Sunday, 17 September 2017
Published in PROJECTS
Written by

I’ve been collaborating with them since I found out about the NGO when I was at university thanks to a Free Design Bank collaborative project between designers and different organizations from developing countries. Later I had the chance to spend some time in Lamu as a designer, living day to day and developing products hand-in-hand with them. The experience was a blast, it has been with me ever since and keeps me tied to them.

They, every single woman who works for Afrikable and makes it possible, are a lesson of strength, and their example has forced me to always put myself in their place and set the record straight.

Afrikable has been showing us that obstacles are surmountable and there is no adversity impossible to overcome. It is a family that continues to grow and as a growing entity it needs resources that will develop with it. To present this project on their behalf is to give them a little push to help them achieve their goals. The fact that my company gave me the opportunity to improve their working conditions means finding a common ground between my context and theirs.

Carmen Guijarro 01

What motivates me the most is knowing that they get to keep all of this, the workshop, the tools, the training courses. The soul of all of this is to provide them with the mechanisms to continue to work.

I hope this is just the beginning, that they are continuously trained in these spaces, that more women join them so that it requires building one, three or five more floors. I hope that they keep growing, proud and brave, showing their integrity and energy.

They defeated the hard reality, but luckily for all, the future is theirs.

 

Author: Carmen Guijarro | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

Sunday, 17 September 2017
Published in PROJECTS
Written by

I still remember that day at the library when Carmen Guijarro called us to tell us the news... It has been granted!!!... We did it!!!... Finally the women’s workshop would be a reality!!!

My cries of joy still echo in the library’s walls (and they’re probably still ringing in Carmen’s ears) but it could not be otherwise, something Merche and I had been fighting for from the beginning, for more than 7 years, had become a reality.

We would be able to offer the women of the project a decent work place, professional machines to improve the production, proper storage space, a library of materials to store patterns and prototypes, design training workshops, increased production and many other essentials to be able to improve the working conditions of the project’s female workers, and the production, thus being able to reach more people through Fair Trade, then again having an impact on the improvement of the quality of life of many Kenyan women.

Factory 01

Carmen Works in a multinational fashion company as a designer and is a volunteer at Free Design Bank, a non-profit platform of the CEU University of Valencia made up of design students and designers, which collaborates with Afrikable since our inception. Carmen came to Afrikable for the first time in 2013 as a volunteer to help improve textile production.

She saw with her own eyes the problems workers faced daily: lack of space, lack of a proper storage place, a rented house where water would come in every time it rained and everything would get wet (the women, the products, the material, the children...). When it didn’t rain but it was windy, everything went flying out the window (the fabrics, the patterns, the threads…); in short, it wasn’t the right space. It wasn’t our first house, before that we had rented another house where the school, the dining hall, the kitchen and the workshops were on the same floor and interconnected. It was a very dark house, full of mosquitoes, and very small, which for the first months served to launch the project, but it wasn’t ready to take on the growth we have experienced during these years.

In 2014, with great effort, we were able to buy a land on instalments where we could grow by building appropriate spaces for all. There our dreams came true step by step: the children’s school and dining hall, the Volunteer Holidays programme’ facilities, and even the Maternity, but the biggest dream resisted. In the new facilities women worked wherever they could: inside the bedrooms when the Volunteer Holidays programme was closed, in the classrooms during school holidays, moving yet again when the Maternity building got the ceiling done... and under the trees when all the buildings were busy.

Many companies provide subsidies to the projects their employees submit through their Corporate Social Responsibility departments, which sometimes are voted and/or selected by their workers. And that was Carmen’s case when she presented the “COOPERATION THROUGH DESIGN FOR THE CONSOLIDATION, CAPACITATION, AND TECHNICAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF THE CRAFTSWOMEN GROUPS OF AFRIKABLE NGOD IN THE LAMU DISTRICT (KENYA)” project to her company.

 

 

The project also counts on the collaboration of Free Design Bank, in the hands of Manuel Bañó and Amparo Balbastre, who collaborate with Afrikable’s craftswomen by supporting them in their training in design and the creation of new products that will be manufactured in the new workshop. Free Design Bank provides the professionals, training materials, and designs necessary for the achievement of a professional commercial collection.

We want to thanks to Carmen, Manolo and Amparo for trusting Afrikable and for making this dream come true. Click on each of their names in order to learn about their emotional testimonies as the major force behind the project.

Asante Sana!

Factory 02

 

Author: Lola Serra | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

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ABOUT AFRIKABLE

Afrikable is a Spanish charitable organisation, registered in the National Register of Associations under number 1/1/594088 and in the Spanish Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AECID)'s Register of Non-Governmental Organisations under number 2033.

 

In Kenya our association is called Afrika Able Organization and is registered with Kenya's NGO Coordination Board under number 10976.

WHERE ARE WE

  • Lamu, Kenia.
    Madrid, Spain
  • +34 605 722 162