More Sewing Graduates

african bags global bag project sewing graduatesWe had a wonderful day yesterday. I am still ovewhelmed at the joy I saw from the women who were graduating. I did not know this meant so much for them. I believe that they felt that they are no longer spectators in life, but participants in developing their lives. All women who were training including Mary Nduta (our first seamstress and designer) came with their families to witness their graduation.

At around one in the afternoon in our usual meeting place — the Domestic Science room of the African International University, 11 women walked proudly to receive their well–deserved certificate. Completely dressed in a ceremonial gown and cap they made for themselves, each one of them held up their certificate to the applauding crowd. I had told them that God would be visiting us in a very special way that morning — God visiting to affirm his love and care. Through their smiles, laughter and happy chatter with relatives, I could tell God had visited and broken down the strongholds of despair and shame.

Their dream to own the first asset in the form of a sewing machine came true. The members of the Board, Jeremiah, Jared and Priscilla, together with Esther Hall, Pastor Amani (who preached) and George Ogalo surrounded the women in prayer. We also shared lunch together.

Would you like to donate toward a sewing machine to replace the ones given to graduating seamstresses? We will soon have another eight women learning to sew. The cost for an industrial–strength, dual–powered (electrical and foot pedal) machine is $300 (24,000 kenya shillings). We award a sewing machine to each woman who graduates so that they can set up a cottage industry in their own homes, taking work from clients, one of which is the Global Bag Project. You can donate using PayPal on the Web site, or you can write a check to GBP and mail it to Box 30, Wheaton, IL 60187.

God bless you for the prayers and support we receive from you.

Show, Tell and Sell

Show, Tell and Sell :: Global Bag Project :: Kenyan BagsWe wheeled the display shelves to the ‘soko’ (market spot) to take part in the sales organized by AIU women’s fellowship. On the shelves were bags of all kinds made by global bag project ladies. We had two goals to accomplish today, to create awareness about our ministry to women and to sell bags.

At GBP Kenya, we believe that vulnerable women are resourceful and can learn and produce high quality products. So we no only use statistics and women stories but we also offer highly competitive quality products. We want the buyers to buy our products because of the quality workmanship and usefulness. Two things happen  when you buy a bag from us; you will be pleased to be part of a solution to poverty realities in our context  by providing income to women who make bags as well as walk away with a well-made-bag. Our visit to the ‘soko’ expose us to AIU community that is composed of young business studies students, seminary students, faculty and staff of the university as well as owners of small craft businesses.


Show, Tell and Sell :: Global Bag Project :: Kenyan BagsPart of our key targets therefore is to create awareness about community development as mission and women ministry. Being an alumni as well as part-time faculty member already opens for us a wide opportunity to get audience as I talk about Global Bag Project. It is exciting to answer questions about, why women? why bags? why social enterprise? So whether we sell all the products on this day or not, we will have told the story.

The story of God faithfulness and of this wide-open opportunity for work and ministry among vulnerable women. We did more of show and tell.  Maybe we will show and sell a little more on another day. For now, we do not loose hope!

Mary O.

Beauty lessons through applique

Applique is a technique of layering a piece of fabric over another to create a colorful design. It is fun and easy and all you need is a sewing machine, fabric scraps, an idea and time. The design is done using zigzag stitches to secure the fabric pieces on the desired larger fabric.

There was some silence except for the rattling of machines and scissors sound on fabrics. I had just introduced applique technique of fabric decoration. All ladies were busy trying to create designs. Evelene B  chose to do shapes for her project which she would use to teach her children about shapes and colors. She had been digging the scrap fabric box to pick colors and found beautiful pieces.

On our Women Cycle of life lesson today we continued a discussion about beauty. Our scripture reading weaved us through Luke 16:15, Proverbs 15 13, 1 Timothy 2:9-10, James 2:1-4 and James 3:17. We learnt the values of men vs values of God, cheerfulness of the heart as beauty, modesty, wisdom that comes from heaven vs earthly wisdom. This was in effort to recognize cultural standards for beauty and contrast it with God’s standards.

Beauty lessons : Global Bag Project : Bags From Africa

But what does applique technique teach us about God and beauty? In applique you  attach a piece fabric on another to create a decorative design. In life you connect (attach) yourself to God in order to discover you purpose (You beautiful decorative design). In applique, no design goes wrong, all pieces are designed and cut by the artist according to his/her purpose.  In life, no human being is a mistake or wrong in the way they look. All people are created (designed) by God according to His purpose.

When we walk with the Lord, we are beautiful inside out!

All the ladies have been working hard to complete their applique project. The most fun part of it was the freedom to create own designs. And here is what we came up with; Pictures below

Beauty lessons : Global Bag Project : Bags From Africa

Mary Nduta's applique project in progress

Beauty lessons : Global Bag Project : Bags From Africa

Evelene Bosibori, 'shapes' applique

Beauty lessons : Global Bag Project : Bags From Africa

Everlene Nekesa with a cross applique, a reminder of Christ's love

Beauty lessons : Global Bag Project : Bags From Africa

Agnes' applique project in progress


Beauty and God’s word

Today we are discussing woman’s beauty in our weekly women cycle of life (WCL) training. WCL utilizes a highly participatory teaching method to train women in the community about health. Health is defined as a holistic well being of a woman, spiritual, physical, emotional, social and economical. Lessons take this form;

1. We begin with a discussion about realities related to the topic of the day. For example, in  topic like today’s we first discuss the cultural views of outer and inner beauty, how our communities define beauty and what we think beauty is.

2. Secondly, we delve into a discussion on our own experiences in relation to the topic of discussion. For example we discuss about what we feel about our beauty, or what people have said about us, or what it feels to be told you are not beautiful based on someone’s standards, or how you have branded others based on your views on what beauty is.

3. Having provoked the contextual realities and personal views we now read some suggested passages from the bible. At this point we discuss the biblical view on the topic. For example, what does the bible say about outer and inner beauty? what does it say about our views about beauty? how does God view us? Today we read Proverbs 31:10-31 and 1 Thessalonians 2:4

It was interesting to hear many versions of how our cultures and community defines beauty; Long hair, lighter colored face, tall, short, plump, thin, talkative, shy, jewelry, clean, short etc. The tricky bit about all these definitions as we discovered through the heated debate was that it is difficult to meet all standards all the time. You cannot be beautiful to everyone all the time. Pursuit of beauty as prescribed by the society would be like chasing the wind or running a race where the goalpost keeps shifting. We agreed we would need to appreciate the gift of our bodies by keeping it clean and tidy. This body after all is the temple of the lord, it is a beautiful vessel for God’s purposes. African woman’s hair is usually woolen, wavy and tough to comb, it is a bit difficult to keep it straight (again, who said straight is more beautiful) hence the prevailing hair care culture involves wearing straight synthetic weaves and wigs. Long braids and chemically relaxed hair is also common. Only one woman in the group today had her natural knotted hair. All the rest had braids or weaves! I had my big afro weave see below;

Beauty and Gods Sord :: Global Bag Project :: African Bags

Mary O's afro weave

The pressure of what the society expects from us can be overwhelming and also intimidating. Paul’s letter to Thessalonians (2:4) reminds us to seek to please God. He may have faced social pressures based on what the community may have expected him to be or look like or behave but he said, ‘on the contrary, we speak as those approved to be entrusted with the Gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.’

Whether we are short or tall, slim or plumb, light or dark, short or long haired we need not look down upon ourselves. Our pursuit should be for inner beauty. The values of love, compassion, hospitality, courage and hard work. Proverbs 31 woman is a shinning example (although intimidating) we can emulate.

Today I asked God to work on my patience, I am getting a bit uglier on that part.

Please Lord, adorn me with inner beauty

Get the ugly spots off before I begin to stink


By Mary O.