Reviving the past, giving hope for the future

April 18, 2012 | Blog | 9 Comments

Thoughts from Glenyss

To meet Charlie is to meet a passionate woman. As she hands me beautifully crafted cushions, throws and handbags, her love of fashion and her love for the people she works amongst every day, is palpable. As she shares her vision to revive the traditional craft techniques that once sustained a community, but which now are almost lost, I catch her passion!

Charlie graduated in fashion design from Nottingham Trent University, worked in fashion PR and as a fashion editor and now she and her husband Steve are missionaries in a sub-Saharan country.  Her vision is to relieve poverty in ways that are sustainable and respectful of culture.

SIM Sahel-blog-photo“It saddens me that so much beauty has disappeared from the every day lives of people here”, she says. “Tourism, modernism, cheap imports and even international aid initiatives have hastened the demise of authentic, quality, hand crafted goods.”

Charlie’s vision is twofold. To see the skills revived and continued into further generations by making them profitable today, and to see these craft workers fairly paid for their work. But her dream doesn’t stop there. One hundred percent of the profits are currently being reinvested into community projects, chosen by the craft workers themselves.

The Gakou Rein Makers

The Gakou live on the edge of a village 12kms from the nearest town. Their only means of getting there is by bicycle, donkey cart or on foot. There is no running water or electricity. The nearest water pump is half an hour walk away. It serves over 500 people and is often dry in hot season. There are about 30 children among the extended family living in their settlement of mud brick houses and the nearest medical services are in the town and tend to be expensive.

With the profit from the sales of their craftwork, the children in the family have recently had a medical check- up and they hope the profits will one day provide a water pump in their vicinity. Charlie is looking into the possibility of installing a water pump as a joint venture with Friends in Action.

A teaching centre

Ussman Tamboura, who currently weaves all the textiles in Sahel Design Collection, is passionate about his craft. He is not a rich man and his skill is his most valuable legacy for his children. It is some skill too – he is renowned in the region for his expertise and has had experience in teaching weaving and dyeing techniques.

Ussman is the only person in his village who does traditional weaving, although there are several men, including his son, who would like to learn the ways of their forefathers. With profits from cushion cover sales, they have built a place where Ussman can teach others how to weave.

Enjoy exploring Charlie’s website and seeing more of the SAHEL designs and the difference they are making. www.saheldesign.com and also Jam Shop

This article courtesy of SIM Australia – Thanks for your thoughts Glenyss.

9 Comments to "Reviving the past, giving hope for the future

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