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We follow this new cycle of workshops with a very specific training directed just at pregnant women working in Afrikable. The recommendations of care during pregnancy, the importance of an adequate diet and nutrition at this stage, and the follow-up of gestation by health professionals are the topics that have been addressed.

Fatuma, Magret and Mariam, each at a different time of pregnancy, have been able to share their concerns and contrast their lifestyle during gestation with the recommendations they have received.

While many of these tips have been a mere reminder, since the use of ample clothing and comfortable footwear is something that all women do in Lamu, other aspects are more complicated to integrate into their way of life: avoiding to carry weight on an island full of women bearing children on their backs and bales of firewood over their heads is a difficult goal to achieve, as well as ensuring a few hours of sleep and rest when the engine of homes and families are them, who rise at dawn to go for water to the well, cook and attend to the house before going to work.

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It happens the same when we approach the nutrition during pregnancy, because the little variety of food that is here and the economic situation of the most families prevent that the diet of the pregnant women will be as rich and varied as possible. Thus, we have adapted as much as possible, and according to the dietary possibilities that Lamu offers, the diet of Mariam, Magret and Fatuma.

The pregnant women working in Afrikable receive a lunch to ensure that their food is as balanced and complete as possible under the free soup kitchen project. To this lunch, rich in iron as legumes and vegetables, and in proteins present in fish, a daily egg and orange will be added to increase the protein supply and to facilitate the absorption of the rest of nutrients, respectively.

We have explained to this girls the importance of adapting, as far as possible, their diet to their state, since all of them have stated that they eat the same thing when pregnant that it is not. Thus, and knowing the key foods to acquire the necessary inputs during gestation (legumes and vegetables to gain iron, egg, meat and fish to get protein, and citrus to facilitate absorption), the challenge is to become aware of the importance and impact of food and to adapt the menus of their dinners and weekends to their state.

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At this point, it is also important to speak of religious practices linked directly to food. During the month of Ramadan, pregnant women are not required to practice fasting, but social pressures are often stronger than the awareness of one's own health, which causes pregnant women to fast throughout the month, with serious consequences that this can lead to both the mother and the baby. This is a controversial aspect and difficult to approach, which needs a continuous work of awareness, because religiousness has a lot of weight and governs the daily life of Lamu.

Finally, we have emphasized how fundamental it is to take control and follow-up of pregnancy from the moment they are aware of their condition in order to avoid and foresee future complications for the baby and for themselves. The key is to raise awareness of the importance of this monitoring and to foster confidence in the health services offered by these services to come to them.

 

Author: Marta Heredia | Translator: Sheila Castro

In order to continue with the continuous and transversal development of Maternity Home's first phase of formation and awareness this month we began a new cycle of workshops related to the general health of women, to the maternal health and to the sexual and reproductive rights with the aim of taking a step forward in achieving empowerment in the area of women's health in Lamu. Throughout this month, a wide range of workshops will be given to local traditional women and midwives by the hand of Esther Pérez, a nurse from Barcelona who has arrived in Afrikable ready to do her bit on the way to the empowerment of women.

Having already taught several workshops and talked on wider and more general issues, such as HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, first aid or family planning, in this new cycle, workshops dealing more specific and directly related to sexual and reproductive health of women.

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We started with a very basic training and at the same time fundamental to settle the contents and knowledge of the following workshops: an anatomy workshop, aimed at all the working women of Afrikable, in which we have reviewed the male reproductive apparatus and, above all, the female one, and we had explained in detail the processes of fecundation and gestation, as well as the phases of fetal development. The knowledge of the functioning of the body itself and the processes that are developed in it are the best tool for the empowerment of women in aspects such daily and important as the acquisition of appropriate habits for optimal development of the foetus or prevention of risk behaviours during pregnancy.

Once again, the need for this type of training has been evidenced, since the nervous laughter, the questions and doubts of the girls, and their faces and screams of surprise have revealed the ignorance on these themes and the importance of fomenting and to provide information and training of this kind on an island where female sexuality is taboo and where women's rights are far less a priority.

 

Author: Marta Heredia | Translator: Sheila Castro

Tuesday, 18 October 2016
Published in VOLUNTEER HOLIDAYS

"And I have to say, I fell in love, I fell in love with the human quality that exists in Afrikable, Lamu. There are feelings that cannot be explained, but I will try to get you a little bit of how much I felt.

One of the best moments is when you arrive at the shamba and you feel at home, feel happiness and peace, feel energy to hang 5 or 6 children and go greeting woman by woman giving them good morning, see come from afar a child who comes with open arms, showing her smiling, letting you see his 3 teeth and taking awkward but determined steps towards you, that children shout your name from the other end of the shamba and you melt inwardly, that the women come to you and give you their most precious good, their babies, to be the one to take care of them. If you thought you had reached the top of a morning happiness, there will always come a woman who, with her hand, will touch your heart, who, with her eyes, will fill you with affection.

The island gives no choice to stress or European rhythm, to problems or bitterness, to the ballasts that you can bring, you return your feet to the ground with the "pole pole" and "hakuna matata" and they are saying "hey! Life has to be lived, there's no hurry, no problem to take away your smile."

If we talk about important things on the island we will talk about music, they carry it in heart and veins, in every part of Afrikable, in the orma town, in the dhow, in the houses, in Lamu, in every part wherever you are there will always be someone singing or making music with any improvised instrument. Silence is a precious commodity but it surpasses what you feel every time they sing.

The best experience of my life has been to go with Afrikable. There came my best version, three months in which every second is a life, in which to enjoy and let go will make you feel really full and happy.

I wrote this last year in December flying to Spain back, and it's exciting to keep feeling the same but even more intense, stronger, deeper, more beautiful."

 

Translator: Sheila Castro

We’ve received the first donations for the new Afrikable project, the Maternity Home and along with it comes hope and expectation of a healthier and fairer future for women in Lamu.

Last Friday we placed the first stone for the reproductive and maternity center for women in extreme poverty and risk of social exclusion. It was a very special moment because this project that we have been working on and that so many women need is now a reality.

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For the second phase of the project we need to collect €15.000, and during the first two weeks of the project we raised €1.100, which allowed us to start building the center.

There are many people involved in this project, many hands and hearts that want to turn this dream into a reality, and that is just beautiful. Did you know that with only €5 we can buy 20 stone blocks?. Every small donation is a great impulse for the project. Join and collaborate!

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You can also participate in one of the many events that we’ll have, or you can also organize one, are you up for it?.

On October 22nd we’ll be in the first GBike Festival organized by the Altafit de Talavera gym. That weekend we’ll also participate in San Fernando Social Economy Fair, in Madrid. No plans for the weekend? Come and join us!

On October 31st we’ll be celebrating Afrikable’s 7th anniversary with a Jazz concert with Walking Jazz Ensemble in Honky Tonk in Madrid… Great plan that you can’t miss! Mark it on your calendar!

There are many more events: two solidary marathons in Cádiz and Córdoba, a couple of concerts, a solidary indoor cycling event, and even a magic event! If you’d like to organize a solidary event in your city to contribute, you can contact us by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I’d like to thank everyone who is collaborating and trusted in us from the beginning and supported the project, the new partners and those who help us keep Afrikable alive, so that many women can have a decent life.

Asante sana!

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Like Galeano said:
"They are small things. They don’t end poverty, they don’t stop underdevelopment, they don’t socialize production or change means, they don’t expropriate Ali Baba’s caves. But maybe they unchain the joy of doing, and turn them into acts. In the end, to act according to the reality and change it, even a little bit, is the only way to prove that reality is transformable."

 

Author: Lola Serra | Translator: Celi Pecorelli

Sunday, 13 November 2016
Published in PROMOTION

It’s already been seven years since we undertook this wonderful project. Seven years full of joys, many smiles, and also more sorrows than we would have wanted to experience, but, ultimately, seven intense years that have changed our lives and mainly the lives of many families in Lamu.

It’s already been seven years since we realised that women in Lamu deserved us to leave our comfortable European life, families and friends aside, and to fight for a fairer future for them and their families, because they deserve this and much more.

Our beginnings were easy: A sewing workshop with 10 women, who were offered training, literacy, a decent job according to fair trade’s standards, children education, and dining room service for their children –a total of 15 back then–, both free of charge.

Afrikable inicios

Seven years later, the project has so grown that, during these years, we found ourselves in need of buying a piece of land to be able to take in the over 40 women who are part of the already four fair trade workshops nearly 100 in high production times– and the over 120 children we support in their child development. Moreover, a new project we dreamt of since our beginnings can finally see the light and get started: Afrikable’s Maternity Home, where a lot of women will be able to receive high-quality gynaecological assistance and pregnancy follow up, with the purpose of improving their sexual, reproductive, and maternal life.

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After these years, we can see big personal changes and little big leaps towards women’s empowerment in the evolution of women like Khadija Hassan, who used to sleep on her mother-in-law’s hut floor after her husband having abandoned her and her daughter, and who, after standing out in the sewing workshop for her qualities and skills, became store manager and has been the inland director of Afrikable for a few years now.

 

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A little big dose of magic when a woman like Fatuma Hassan when the only thing she’d ever done in her entire life was cutting wood, bringing water, and giving birth, is given the opportunity to show her worth, to learn to read and write, to overcome the difficulties and learn to use the sewing machine –though no one can stop her now...A little big dose of magic when Fatima gets to know her rights and doesn’t want her daughter to get married when she’s only 15 years-old: She wants her to study and to have a different future, a future she is able to choose.

 

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A huge dose of magic when Maryam Ramadhan faced her husband, who did not want her to work, nor to be seen by any other men –despite them being doctors when she was ill...and, despite receiving death threats from her now ex-husband and falling into deep depression, has overcome all these obstacles life has put in her way towards her empowerment. She’s now the CEO of her own life and she decides to work in Afrikable’s store, working face-to-face with customers, and to go to the doctor if she needs to, and she lives on her own and says she can now choose, and she chooses not to marry until she finds a man who respects her the way she deserves.

 

During these seven years, over 400 people have taken part in our solidarity holidays programme, been part of our joys and our sorrows, and have been able to see firsthand all this progress.

Seven years full of stories, many of them happy, some of them very sad, which break our souls...Seven years which would not have been possible without your help and cooperation. Thank you so much for trusting us, for supporting us, for reading us, for spreading our work. In short, thanks a lot for being there!

To other 7, 70, or 7 000 years! CONGRATULATIONS, AFRIKABLE, and keep on growing!

 

 

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Author: Lola Serra | Translator: Sara Vivarelli

Thursday, 27 October 2016
Published in PROJECTS

Guided by Manu, an ex solidarity holidayer who never keeps still and loves to get involve in new adventures, and with Pablo’s help www.huerteamos.com, Afrikable has now an ecological allotment and a henhouse!

Our shamba was already taking shape with the school, the dining room, the holidayers area, etc, but it was time to start making the most out of the whole available land.

The goals were clear: Supplying the kitchen with highly demanded products, giving the shamba some freshness by contributing more green areas, and educating women and children in environmental and farming topics, all of this by recycling as much as possible, both when producing and in the future maintenance in order to make it more sustainable, which is also very important in Afrikable’s culture.

Our “allotmenters”, Manu and Pablo, who was convinced by the first one to come to Lamu for a few weeks, started to do some tests to get the necessary conditions. They told me they were facing a big starting problem since the soil in Lamu is very sandy, itdoesn’t keep the nutrients, and, therefore, it is not suitable for farming. The solution was found by mixing it up with the clay soil in Manda, the opposite island, and providing it with nutrients containing cow manure. After several tests, they have come up with the perfect mixture for our allotment. Substratum ready!

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With the kids running around everywhere and everyone happily walking the shamba, it was necessary to set some terraces up, for which they used the abandoned coconut palms wood –to fence the substratum and the plantation zone in.

Mainly tomatoes, peppers and potatoes –besides aubergines, passion fruit, papaya, mchicha and lady’s fingers− have been grown for self-sufficiency. Aromatic plants such as mint, lavender or basil have been included for consumption, but also to create an ecosystem that attracts plague predators such as bees. We must remember our ecological allotment and avoid any ‘pesticide’.

Not only the allotment area has been grown but also terraces have been put around the fence, where climbing plants will be grown not only for decoration but also to provide freshness and to work as windbreaker.

In the future, they will carry on the work in the school area, where the idea is to grow passion fruit and a flamboyant tree to provide that area in the shamba with shade.

And with our intention of recycling, some large cans have been placed to work as compost bins, to recycle Afrikable’s organic waste, and to get our own compost for our allotment to be able to be self-sufficient.

 

 

What can we do about food leftovers? With the same recycling spirit, our boys have set a henhouse up with the macuti of the former school. This henhouse has a capacity of roughly 25/30 hens, although at the moment we just have 4. We hope they can provide the project with eggs. Our ‘posh’ hens, as Manu has called them, will feed on food leftovers, thus reducing the project leftovers to the top.

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Author: Ana García Chaves | Translator: Sara Vivarelli

Fatuma Jarso has recently become a mum. She gave birth in her house, as nearly every other woman in the project has. The baby is okay but she is hospitalized because the labour got complicated, and she is undergoing a strong haemorrhage. From the heart, we truly hope there is not any other complications and for her to get the discharge.

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In the bed next to Fatuma’s, there is a woman that has just given birth to twins, and one of them has unfortunately not been able to make it through the labour. The girl in bed on the other side has to be operated due to a vagina deformation after the complications in her last labour.

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The fact of being a woman means having an added risk in the developing countries, and Kenya is not an exception. It is estimated that, in 2015, over 300.000 women died both during pregnancy and while they were giving birth or after it all over the world. Moreover, for every woman dying when giving birth, a dozen undergo either an injury, or infection, or illness.

Most of maternal deaths are either caused by haemorrhages, infections, dangerous abortions, and preeclampsia (serious hypertension with convulsions), or due to complications because of pre-existing illnesses that get worse during pregnancy. It is quite obvious that both the lack of a suitable medical assistance and the high cost of the services are key factors which determine the woman’s and baby’s survival.

When a mother dies during labour, the child left orphaned is much more likely to die in the next two years after her/his mother’s death.

Maternal mortality rate in Kenya is very high, for the figures collected by the WHO (360 deaths out of every 100.000 births) only take into account the births in hospitals, being Kenya a country where only 44% of the births is assisted by suitable nurse staff. Lamu is one of Kenya’s districts with the highest mortality rate in the whole country (676 women die for every 100.000 births). The difficult access women have to sources and healthcare services, as well as the lack of suitable infrastructures, are the origin of this situation.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has committed to support the fast reduction of maternal mortality by 2030 as a part of the Sustainable Development Goals agenda.

From Afrikable, we want to contribute to this goal by launching a Reproductive and Maternal Health Centre in order to be able to provide women with a quality assistance service that is accessible and suitable for all the women who need it.

The great majority of maternal deaths would be prevented if women had access to quality family planning health services, appropriate assistance during pregnancy, birth, and the first month after delivery or assistance after abortions. This is the reason why, in Afrikable, we have started a first stage of training and awareness, through family planning, health, first aid, and HIV workshops, as well as other topics related to sexual, reproductive, and maternal health, for both women in general and midwives.

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In future stages, we will cover gynaecological needs, support during pregnancy, and in the last stage we will assist in labour in order to be able to stand behind women’s rights in regards to reproductive and maternal health, thus providing women with a complete assistance and empowering them in every aspect of their lives.

 

Author: Lola Serra | Translator: Sara Vivarelli

Wednesday, 03 August 2016
Published in PROJECTS

In the last few weeks, Afrikable facilities in Lamu had great progress. Thanks to the effort and hard work from the whole team, we have accomplished major milestones.

On the one hand, we have water in the kitchen (we would like to thank Miguel Santolaya and Miren Estrellas for their effort). You wouldn’t believe how happy the cooks are!.

Avances Agua Cocina

On the other hand, we finished the school bathroom, the sink in the dining room and the school walls.

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And to top it off, we are preparing our own vegetable garden. We can’t be stopped!.

Avances Huerto

If you would like to know the rest of the facilities, please read this post.

 

Author: María Carrió | Translator: Celi Pecorelli

Wednesday, 03 August 2016
Published in PROMOTION

Thinking about some new ideas for the project, we decided to prepare a little stage play, so children could have a great time laughing of our rookie swahili and also learn about waste disposal. We met the expectations, the audience was thrilled and the actors were delighted.

I, as the donkey, had the magical feeling of receiving instead of giving, something big moved me, I enjoyed it and I didn’t need anything else but that moment.

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We did it with and for women and children of Afrikable. They gave away their smiles, turning something small into something big.

For a moment, you forget about everything else and you think about the joy, their lifestyle and the small things that you will cherish. You just want to stop time, and relive it a million times, hear their laughs and remember their eyes wide open.

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Maybe at the end, we didn’t have the big round of applause that we were expecting, but you could see it in their faces. The magical feeling when you think that you don’t need anything else will accompany you for the rest of your life.

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Maybe that applause was meant for them, maybe we should be the audience, and maybe their lives deserve to be applauded...

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Author: Beatriz Suena | Translator: Celi Pecorelli

Wednesday, 25 May 2016
Published in PROMOTION

Paqui Cabeza, a volunteer taking part in the programme Solidarity Holidays, has organised a talk in the high school ‘Sevilla Este’ in order to share her experience as an Afrikable’s ‘holidayer’.

 

"The last 18th of March, I was given the chance to organise a talk for the high school students in ‘Sevilla Este’ in order to share with them my experience in the programme ‘Solidarity Holidays’.

The opportunity arose thanks to Inma, their Philosophy teacher, who invited me to the school, which I joyfully accepted since it means that I can share a little bit of what I experienced and felt in my stay in Lamu. The students showed a great interest on my story since they have been working on the value of solidarity too throughout the academic course. And what could ever work as a better example than Afrikable to fully represent those little solidarity gestures that become real changes for people?.

The students were truly impressed with the job carried by the women, with the force they would convey, and they showed a great interest about their life and their families’ conditions; they asked questions about fair trade, how the island was, how they would feed themselves, and many other.

It was very moving for me because of the fact that I recalled one of the best experiences of my life and also because I gave an example of a social project I had participated in. Being able to get them closer to the women and kids in Afrikable has been very rewarding, as well as showing them that there is another way to do things, that another world is possible.

I hope to have contributed, even if it is in the slightest, to encouraging them to collaborate in some activities in their community. I am sure some of them already have."

 

For more information on the talk, you can visit the school blog.

 

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Translator: Sara Vivarelli

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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