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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

Tuesday, 10 October 2017
Published in PROMOTION
Written by

Finally, the day to present the New Afrikable catalogue.

Behind each product, each photo and each design there is great teamwork that has lasted for years, and many stories to tell.

From every woman who, with perseverance, effort and their willingness to always improve, grow and better themselves, has cut, sewed and ran every stitch from the first to the last product with a smile on their face

Since that day Lola and I were sitting down with a pen and a notebook in hand, the new catalogue started to become a reality, instead of a new dream to fulfill, to showcase all the work we do every day at Afrikable, with enthusiasm, professionalism and the same goal as always: women’s empowerment and fair trade as a tool for change.

From every photo taken of each product, by the number one photographer and model, that with each flash takes you to another place where you can hear the sewing machines, the soft singing of women while working and the laughter of children in the background.

From the great and essential graphic design work, with a consummate professional at the front spreading energy through each improvement and idea put forward, where the outcome of the road we have travelled together can be shown, to achieve much more than a Fair Trade catalogue, a catalogue of stories, empowerment, self-improvement and effort.

Regalos solidarios de Comercio Justo Afrikable

A new catalogue with new products, in line with new trends, as well as the total upgrade of the existing products with remarkable improvement in quality and design.

All items shown in this catalogue are handmade under Fair Trade standards , by Afrikable’s producer groups: Jimudo Women Group, Masaai Crafts, Lamu Recycling Solution and Viatu Project.

Find out all about it!

 

DOWNLOAD your catalogue now or visit our online shop

 

Author: Merche Cascajero | 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

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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