You are here: Home / BLOG / PROJECTS
PROJECTS

PROJECTS (29)

Wednesday, 27 December 2017
Published in PROJECTS
Written by

A few months ago we were lucky enough to share special moments with a very special girl. Saedi came to Lamu to do her internship at Afrikable. Saedi is, above all, a brave woman who is bursting with life, strength and courage... an example to follow at only 18 years old.

MGF Taller
Her parents are from Gambia and, although she was born in Spain, it wasn’t until a few months ago that she obtained her Spanish nationality. “My dad lived in Spain as if he were still in Gambia, he forbade me and my siblings to speak in Spanish at home, and he would beat us if he heard us speak in any language other than Soninké, our mother tongue”. Although that’s not the only reason why he beat them... abuse was constant at home.

When she was 8, her parents took her on a trip to Gambia with her little sister to learn how to be like Gambian women. Back then she didn’t know that trip would mark a before and after in her life. They stayed at her father’s house in Turekunda, a small village far from the capital of Gambia. One morning like any other, after a breakfast like any other, her mother dressed her in a cloth that seemed very strange to her and took her to the bathroom where suddenly more women came in: her cousin and her mother held her to the ground, one leg each, another woman stood behind her holding her body and arms. Lastly, another woman entered the room with a blade in her hand.

“I don’t really remember it as something extremely painful, but I do remember the screams of my sister when it was her turn” Saedi says. Maybe her mind wanted to erase such a horrible memory, maybe the fear or tension made her focus on what happened to her sister so she could somehow mentally escape what was happening to her. Maybe it simply didn’t hurt her as much as she expected.

MGF Taller
If I put myself in her place, in the place of an 8-year-old girl who suddenly is taken to the bathroom and forcibly held to the ground by 3 or 4 women while another one wields a blade in her hands, I would be terrified. In any case, what is clear is that that day, when others decided for her what to do with her body, they rode roughshod over her rights as a child and her rights as a woman.

Her parents returned to Spain, but she was left with her aunt in Gambia waiting to find a husband for her. During that period, abuse and mistreatment were common in her day to day life. Two years later Spanish bureaucracy gave Saedi a golden opportunity. She had to renew her residence permit since her father never registered her as a Spaniard in the civil registry despite being born and raised in Spain. He had to bring her back to Spain for the paperwork, and due to the precarious economic situation that the family was going through at that time, they could not send her back to Gambia.

The physical abuse continued in Spain, but one day Saedi, at the young age of 13, decided to let the brave woman inside her come out, the woman she has become now, and put an end to that situation. She talked to her teacher about everything that was happening to her and immediately all protocols for child protection were implemented. From that moment, thanks to Generalitat of Catalonia and Children’s Villages, she is safe and more full of life than ever before.

Within the cycle of women's rights, and specifically following previous workshops on gender violence, we wanted to close this cycle by raising awareness about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as the ultimate expression of the violation of the rights of women and girls, as well as a clear example of both physical and psychosexual violence against all of us.

MGF Stop

It is very common to hear about “female circumcision” when referring to FGM, and that’s why we wanted to focus our workshop on highlighting precisely the differences between male circumcision and female genital mutilation.

MGF Taller

Male circumcision is one of the oldest known surgical operations, it consists in the removal of the foreskin (skin that covers the glans of the penis). The main reasons for its practice are religious, cultural and for health. It is estimated that around 30% of men of the world’s population are circumcised. The risk of complications during surgery, or post-surgery, is 2%, and they are easily treatable in most cases. Recent studies by the World Health Organization indicate that male circumcision significantly reduces the number of urinary infections, some types of cancer, and even sexually transmitted diseases. Special mention for the WHO studies that show that male circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection by approximately 60%.

MGF Circuncisión Mapa

Female Genital Mutilation comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia and other injuries to them for non-medical reasons. It has no beneficial effect on health and harms women and girls in many different ways. It can cause severe bleeding and urinary problems, and may later cause cysts, infections, birth complications and increased risk of newborn death. More than 200 million women and girls have now been subjected to FGM in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where this practice is concentrated.

MGF Mapa

Female genital mutilation is classified into three major types:

  • Type 1 - Clitoridectomy: partial or total removal of the clitoris.
  • Type 2 - Excision, involves the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora (the inner folds of the vulva), with or without excision of the labia majora (the external skin folds of the vulva).
  • Type 3 - Infibulation, consists in the narrowing of the vaginal opening, which is sealed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora or majora, sometimes by stitching them, with or without removal of the clitoris (clitoridectomy).

Tipos de Mutilación Genital Femenina

FGM is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of women and girls. It reflects a deep-rooted inequality between the sexes and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is almost always carried out on minors and constitutes a violation of the rights of girls. It also violates the rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right not to be subjected to torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life in cases in which the procedure leads to death.

According to UNICEF, 9.3 millions of women and girls in Kenya (27% of the total) have experienced female genital mutilation, which positions Kenya as the number 17 of the 29 African countries where FGM is practised.

Mutilación Genital Femenina en África

The ethnic group that practises FGM the most is Cushite, which includes the Somali, Borana and Orma tribes. The Maasai and Samburu tribes from the Nilote ethnic group also practise it to a great extent. On the contrary, the ethnic group that practises FGM to a lesser degree is Bantu, among which are the Giriama, Pokomo and Kikuyu tribes, as well as the Swahilis. 87% of the mutilations in Kenya correspond to type number 2: Excision.

Mutilación Genital Femenina por tribus

In 2011, a law banning Female Genital Mutilation was passed in Kenya: “The Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation ACT nº32, 2011”. Under this law, it is illegal to practise FGM or even to take a woman or a girl abroad to practise it.

Since the law was passed, the practice has fallen by 11%. In contrast, the girls who suffer it keep getting younger, probably so they won’t be able to resist while being mutilated. If girls reach school age, they will probably refuse to undergo the practice since nowadays there is more information on the subject and they would have more options to lodge a complaint.

Many of the Afrikable women were subjected to mutilation when they were little, or even their daughters have experienced it. They all agree that there are no rules related to religion that force people to carry out FGM; most recognise that it is a cultural issue, that has been done ancestrally, that nobody told them it was wrong and that other options existed. In the past, women who didn’t undergo ablation were rejected by their community and couldn’t find a husband since they feared they would leave them for other men. It was also practised as a way to keep virginity intact until marriage. They now realise that men from their tribes marry women from other tribes where ablation is not practised and they wonder why they have to undergo it.

Since the law was passed, they have encountered many difficulties to carry out FGM on their daughters, and fortunately many have been saved from being mutilated. After the workshop they have verified and understood that some traditions are better relegated to the past.

All women were impressed with Saedi’s testimony and strength, and encouraged her to specialise in this area, thus, with her testimony, she would be able to contribute in the fight to eradicate female genital mutilation.

MGF Taller

Saedi, you are quite the role model… we congratulate you for being the way you are and we encourage you to move forward, to become the great woman we know you are going to be… It was our good fortune to count on your support and collaboration with Afrikable. Karibu tena!!

MGF Taller

MGF Taller

 

Author: Lola Serra | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

Monday, 06 November 2017
Published in PROJECTS
Written by

"It’s been over 50 days since I returned from what was the best experience of my life. I find it very difficult to explain to my friends, colleagues, family, how the experience went when they ask me ‘How was Africa?’ It would take me a long time to answer the question.

In order to explain my experience, I have to go back to May 30, 2012 when I went to pick up my partner at Madrid’s airport. Maitane came back from her trip to Afrikable after being on an island called Lamu for a month. I will always remember her first words when she saw me right after passing the automatic doors: ‘I have to go back.’

During the next five years, every time we had to plan our vacations, Maitane always said: ‘Another year that I’m not going back to Afrikable, Visu we definitely have to go together next year’.

After five years of ‘holding on’, I finally decided to make the trip with her to that island in Kenya about which I had heard hundreds of stories, flavors, smells...

The unforgettable experience starts from the moment you hop on the boat that will take you to the island of Lamu. There it was. After such a long time, there was only a five-minute journey between us.

David y Maitane camino a Lamu

When you set foot on Lamu, you notice the special charm it gives off. To get to Afrikable, your bags are carried by the unforgettable donkey, Pantoja.

In the first walk from the harbour to the Shamba, you quickly realise that the island of Lamu will leave a mark on you. During the scarcely 25-minute walk, I remember greeting more than 100 people. Everyone with a smile on their face. When we got to the Shamba, we were ‘attacked’ by a crowd of children whose only desire was to hug you, kiss you and touch you... Consequence: first moment I had goose bumps.

From the first time I passed Afrikable’s door, I felt like Maitane had lied to me on her stories about the little and homely NGO. What I had in front of me and was able to enjoy is a great project that grows step by step, bit by bit. That’s what we went there for, to do our bit.

In my case, I had to help Madame Joice within the school department. In my professional life, I teach adults and I had not dealt with so many ‘little monsters’ at the same time before. After ten minutes, I had them controlled with a couple of ‘Sasa hapana, sasa school, na after we kucheza’. The mixture of languages all volunteers speak from the first day, and after three days you don’t even know what language are you speaking when your colleagues look at you strangely.

David en la escuelita

The project grows every day, every hour, thanks to the daily effort of the women there. They are an example of self-improvement, bravery, courage. Each one of them has a story that makes you shiver just from hearing it.

Just like everyone else, we leave our comfortable life behind to go contribute. I think I did my bit, but I must admit that I’m taking with me a whole bag of bits. A bag that will be with me for the rest of my life and I will forever carry in my heart.

After five years, I understand Maitane’s words perfectly. Now I am the one who wants to go back.

David en la escuelita

Asante Sana.

Nakupenda Lamu.

Nakupenda Afrikable.

 

Author: David Martínez | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

Sunday, 29 October 2017
Published in PROJECTS
Written by

"I can finally say that I officially belong to the group of people affected by ‘Africa’s ills’. Far from being an illness, it is an emotional state that those of us who have visited the continent and feel the need to come back suffer. To feel again, to smell, to breathe, to contemplate its people, its colours, its music, its energy, its horizon, its sky and a whole range of sensations that get you caught up in a feeling of vitality and strength that you don’t want to stop experiencing.

Testimonio_Maitane_BEFORE_and_AFTER

All thanks to you, Afrikable. A small project I discovered 5 years ago while surfing the net in search of myself. Although, 5 years later I can no longer say that you are a small project. I met you as a humble family with many challenges to overcome and I’ve had the privilege of seeing what you have become through the years.

The modest house you had at the time was called ‘Alipenda’, the first one to give shelter to such an ambitious project. All activities were carried out there: the women’s workshop, the children’s school, the babies’ area, the kitchen, the volunteers’ area and the founders and the coordinator’s office. The idea of having a piece of land (a Shamba) to develop Afrikable’s hopes and dreams was a bold vision of the future. And yet here you are, more determined than ever after facing several obstacles, difficulties and frustrations that didn’t stand a chance against the many moments of joy, overcoming and achievements.

It has been overwhelming to come back to the same place and see everything you have achieved and how much you’ve grown from the front row. A piece of land that houses several buildings: the sewing workshop with new machinery, the footwear workshop, a storage room, a big office for the project’s management, two nursery schools, the babies’ area, a dining hall that caters to more than 100 children, the Maternity Home (probably the biggest proof that everything is possible), an orchard that symbolizes how even in the most inhospitable places everything can grow with a lot of effort and love, and a cosy space for volunteers. Now more than ever, I have felt what Afrikable means: Africa is possible..

Maitane con Rukija

About this second experience I would highlight the self-improvement, strength and empowerment lessons learned from each one of the women that are part of the project. Their stories are a burden they have to carry every day; their strength and lust for life never cease to amaze me. One of the tasks I had to carry out every morning was to go down to the Afrikable store in the village (Lamu), Mariam Ramadhan was there, and starting my day thinking about her smile when she saw me walk through the door made the heat and the 30-minute walk on the sand to get there be ‘Hakuna Matata’ (no worries).

Maitane con Mariam Ramadhan

I close a chapter of my life in the knowledge that I will cross paths with Afrikable’s women and children again, after all, everything happens in threes. I will come back to see firsthand how each seed you have planted has grown, to see how women have continued to acquire their empowerment and how the children have grown up with the tools you provided them with.

Asante Sana (thank you very much) to the brave and courageous women, to the lively and strong children, to each member of the great Afrikable family for opening your home to us, for opening our eyes and showing us the essentials of life, and, in short, for opening up your hearts to us. Once again, I have tried but I couldn’t give more than I have received.

Maitane en el poblado Orma

 

Author: Maitane | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

Saturday, 07 October 2017
Published in PROJECTS
Written by

And we won!!!

We thought we had won a volunteer holiday during which we were going to Lamu to help people in need through our “western and developed” contribution, but just stepping on the island made us realise that we would mutually help each other.

Let’s start from the beginning...

After getting confirmation that there were no available places for September, we quickly started dealing with the idea that it wouldn’t be possible this year, despite being available for the holidays and having saved the money for the experience that we had wanted to live for the last two years, being holidaymakers at Afrikable! It was such a shame... other colleagues booked it first and the order of arrival must always be respected. Afrikable decided to draw a raffle based on buying tickets to help finance the “Maternity Home”, an ambitious project that will enable women to monitor, control and give birth in adequate conditions unusual in the area. I decided to help by buying and spreading tickets among people close to me. The raffle took place on March 30, my work shift that day was from 2 pm to 10 pm so the first thing I would do after work would be to check the raffle tickets. I didn’t get the chance to... Lola had already written me to congratulate me on... my birthday! That’s right, my birthday is March 30! I thanked her and she called me...

Lola: Alejandro, happy birthday!

Me: Thanks, Lola! I was just leaving work... I haven’t even walked out the door yet.

Lola: I’m calling to congratulate you on your birthday… and on the raffle!!! You won!!!

Me:

Yes, I was speechless... uncontrollable nerves ran through my body in a matter of milliseconds, unable to do anything but enjoy it. It was a unique day that I will never forget. I quickly called my brother and we started thinking about the wonderful experience we were going to live. We had won a volunteer holiday!

Months later we arrived to Lamu, from where I’m writing you. From the air you feel like the island has that something... and when you land you can confirm that it’s nothing like what you have experienced before. You go from the airport to the island in a wooden launch with people who don’t stop smiling. The coordinators wait for you on the other side, with such joy and enthusiasm that confirms it’s going to be an unforgettable experience. The village is buzzing with life and joy, they insist that you feel welcome, and you will hear the words Jambo, karibu (“Hello, welcome”) constantly throughout your stay, always accompanied by a dazzling smile created by the contrast of their skin colour.

We arrived at the facilities where Afrikable develops its project. Joy and harmony are in the air. There’s a great sewing team of lively women with a look of satisfaction when people visit their work area. A footwear workshop where they make the sandals that will be sold under fair trade standards in different places, whose dedication and hard work make the western public appreciate their quality. A nursery school, fundamental element of the project. Children’s school, backbone of society where Afrikable tries to perform a thorough and meticulous work. Proper nutrition, personal hygiene care, health, learning how to read and write, learning English, believing in a better world, fighting to improve and not settling for what has already been established and, above all, making them feel loved and very appreciated. And the new jewel in the crown, the Maternity Home, is now a reality! Construction is very advanced, the building can be seen, it has shape and, two days ago, they finished putting the roof on. My tickets and those of the collaborators are plastered on every stone. There’s still work to be done and funding to be acquired, but everything runs smoothly!.

We were soon assigned the tasks or areas in which all of us who had come during the same period would collaborate. After several days, we all had the same feeling... we didn’t feel that useful... “I just go grocery shopping to the market”, “I’m just holding babies all morning”, “I just cut and stick sandal soles…” We all had the feeling that we were coming to “change the world!!”, we felt energized enough to “improve all of Lamu in 3 weeks!!”. After sitting down to ponder for a few minutes, I realised that our desire to be useful and ambitious didn’t allow us to notice that thanks to us everything else was moving further, that mothers could work because we looked after their babies, that children learned English thanks to the games teacher holidaymakers prepared, that the children could eat thanks to the person who went grocery shopping to the market every day, that people could work in facilities in optimal conditions because maintenance workers did their job well. And I started to smile! I felt very useful and... “I was changing the world!!”, exactly what I came to do! It was wonderful!.

Alejando en el mercado y con los bebés

Days have gone by so fast. We spend the mornings helping out and the afternoons exploring the island and its surroundings, enjoying the charming beaches, unforgettable fresh juices, boat rides and a beer in a floating bar that captures every visitor’s attention. On weekends we go on longer trips, such as safaris or stays in unspoiled islands that require a full day.

Alejando de safari en el Parque Nacional de Tsavo

I’ve loved Africa and I feel like with Afrikable I have understood it better. I have been able to go deep into the reality of Lamu’s society. Now I understand those times I have been told that Africa leaves no one indifferent. Today, I’m incapable of giving a verdict nor a more or less profound opinion on Africa and I don’t expect to be able to give one for months, when I’ve had the chance to take in and assimilate everything better. Afrikable and the raffle have allowed me to live a unique experience, to discover a different world, to value aspects that I had already forgotten and, above all, to do my bit for a better Lamu. I take with me friends, memories, experiences, images, both those captured by the camera and those that will never be erased from my mind, nature and bits of Africa.

Goodbye from two holidaymakers who will always carry in their hearts Afrikable, their women’s entrepreneurship and the hopes pinned on Africa’s future generations.

Alejandro and Pablo Martín

Despedida de Alejando y Pablo Martín

 

Author: Alejandro Martín | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

Sunday, 17 September 2017
Published in PROJECTS
Written by

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

Sunday, 03 September 2017
Published in PROJECTS
Written by

During this research study I’ve had the chance to hear stories about brave women who decided to break sexist rules and to move forward. Accepting a job, disposing of their money, divorcing their husbands or refusing to see their daughters being forced to marry. But I have also learned about their context and not everything is positive.

Lamu is a city of very traditional and sexist cultural norms and massive economic poverty, just like the rest of the country, just like many other countries in Africa and all over the world. This makes it very difficult to find a way out of male violence against women. The police station receives about 4 or 5 reports on the issue each week, but nearly 100% of the reports end there since the police themselves recommend to talk to your husband, or to the people’s authority, in order to tackle the issue and reach an agreement to “forgive the first mistake”, because “you’re not going to put your husband in jail”.

Comisaria policía

Then, if you have broken through your own fears and achieved to file the report not letting your parents, friends or relatives persuade you, you must go to the hospital and pay about €10 to get a medical certificate assessing your injuries. This may not be shocking, but here the average salary is €30, and given that the vast majority of women don’t have access to the labour market, it is an unreachable amount for many of them.

However, not everything is negative. Lamu currently has a female judge committed to women’s rights, who works with female lawyers’ associations to enable women to defend their rights in court for the lowest possible cost. Before I talked to her, many people told me how great she was doing because she was starting to impose heavy sentences on rapists.

Lamu violencias machistas

Thinking about what is the most positive aspect of the research study, I would say women’s fighting ability. When you spend time sitting next to them and listening to them, you don’t come across women who are tired of life because they work all day, inside and outside the home, experiencing all kinds of violence and discrimination. You come across cheerful and smiley women, eager to make a joke, ask you things about your city, to learn and dream. You can find a woman who, while breastfeeding her child and moping the floor, tells you that she wants to open her own beauty salon in two years. Another woman, while she takes her child to the hospital, tells you on the way there that she wants to work her way up to get money to build a second floor at her home, hers and her children’s home. That is why, they are not women who have given up, they are women who keep fighting to improve their lives and their families’ life.

To conclude, all that remains for me to do is thank every person who has made this project possible, specially to Lola and Merche for making it happen, the coordinators team and former coordinators who have joined me along the way, and particularly to the women who have been part of this paper, for every glance, every handshake, every kiss and for sharing in such a pure and real way their outlook on life. It has been a real challenge to conduct a research study on this topic here, but it will always be the best decision of my life.

Asante Sana.

Badaee.

 

Author: Ana Fernández | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

Sunday, 03 September 2017
Published in PROJECTS
Written by

Despite it being the aim of my research, it’s a topic difficult to address. For me, it is due to the respect they instill, I’m terrified of them seeing me as a teacher who comes to give moral lessons. However, I think it is a topic that has to be talked about and addressed without fear.

The starting point to talk about violence is to not separate the public sphere from the private sphere, which means not to treat violence cases as ‘domestic’ cases that happen to some people at home and as something not to talk about, but as a consequence of men wanting to maintain their position of power and that women all over the world suffer socially.

Therefore, we started talking about who has the power. We are all clear about the answer, men. But, after one of the women said in the interview that they had more power “because they are the ones who bring the food”, I felt it was necessary to talk about how in the past male superiority was acquired by fighting wars, hunting, working, etc. But nowadays they have power because of tradition, not because of their actual situation. Since the women are the ones who work and run the household, they are the protagonists of this new reality in which both men and women work, but men still have more power.

And, once we manage to reach an agreement on it, I bring myself to talk about violence. But in order to talk about violence, first we need to talk about what we understand by violence. Women start to talk about different types of violence: taking all your money not even leaving you some for medicine is violence, hitting you is violence, forcing you to do all the housework and threatening to hit you if you don’t do it is violence, etc.

Violencias machistas 01

From there, we started to look at the types of violence one by one. We started with physical violence, what it is and who is affected by it. When I ask if all men resort to violence, some answer all of them, others say the majority. One of the hardest moments was when we decided to ask the opposite: Who has experienced physical violence? And all of them started to raise their hand until one of them clarified: “all of us have experienced physical violence".

It was comforting to see how some women encouraged other women from the same tribe to talk, to not be silent, because later would be too late. I took the opportunity to tell them that the same happened in Spain, people said that these things must be solved at home, saying the phrase: “you shouldn’t wash your dirty linen in public”. I explained that only in recent years, people have started to stop accepting it as commonplace, and are starting to criticize it and take action, at least against physical violence.

The problem is that when we talk about Spain, they picture a very resourceful place with many possibilities, and it is true that, compared to their situation, it probably is. However, they find it very difficult to get out of the situation of violence in which they have to break religious, cultural, moral and economic rules in order to choose to report it and start a new life.

It was very complex to tackle the issue of sexual violence and to tell them that having sex against their will is violence, even with their husbands. It is very difficult to address this subject, in Spain people recently have started to talk about it with the No means No campaigns. I believe the fact that they hear it lays the first stone in the foundations of change. When we talk about sexuality many of them laugh and others make jokes about how to avoid having sex with their husbands when they don’t want to. In the end, they say that they have to defend themselves; when I mention that we are starting to give self-defense classes at the University, they ask me to teach them how to defend themselves. They say it while sharing jokes and knowing looks, but the step has been taken, they know it is wrong, they know their lack of power does not allow them to fight the battle right now, but they want to defend themselves in the future.

Another complex issue was economic violence. As I said at the beginning, some of them recognised the denial of their right to dispose of their own salary as a form of violence. But later, when we talked about salary, many acknowledged that their husbands have their account numbers and that they manage to hide some of the money, but not all of it. Then, they start a very interesting debate on what they should do, if it is right or wrong that their husbands know it, and how some of them manage to dispose of their own salary. The picture of this moment could not describe better what the creation of women’s support networks is.

Violencias machistas 02

I could tell word for word how everything unfolded and I wouldn’t be able to transmit the power I felt in that room. Women listened to us, got the message and were willing to talk, that was a gift that will be with me for the rest of my life.

Change won’t happen overnight, change will be pole pole, brick by brick. I have no doubt that these brave women who have experienced all kinds of violence throughout their lives are resilient, they know what they have been through and they don’t want that for their daughters. This will make them pass on a different kind of values that will be a shift towards a more equal society.

 

Author: Ana Fernández | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

Page 1 of 3

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER

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