Helping Mothers In St. Joseph the Worker Jesuit Parish in Kangemi, Kenya

By Paul Kalenzi SJ

 Dolly Craft is an income generating facility located in Kangemi Slum in Nairobi, Kenya. It is home to an estimated 200,000 people. Many of the people in the slum have come to Nairobi from rural villages in an effort to gain employment and support their families.

The Dolly Craft project primarily addresses the issues of the poor livelihoods of women. Dolly Craft provides employment to women and mothers; the project helps to put food on the table and pay school fees, as well as covering the basic medical needs of the families. The project produces local handcrafts including dolls, jewellery and bags and also church vestments and other clothing items.

A needs assessment was conducted by the regional development office to identify any short-comings of the facilities. The matter was first highlighted by the project manager Sr. Ida. Through the needs assessment it very quickly became evident that the main problem associated with the facility is a lack of space. Observations and interviews revealed that the facility had originally been designed to cater for 16 people. Currently there are 29 staff members and the amount of product output has increased significantly putting great pressure on storage space and the showroom.

 dcraft edited nl2011

The staff were working too close together making the working environment uncomfortable. A small room that was originally designated as a staff room had to be converted into an extra sewing room. The storage of incoming materials and finished products had become a significant problem with simply not enough space available to adequately house all the materials.

It was also revealed that current competition within Nairobi necessitates a better showroom to attract customers.

The previous showroom was very small and only a small fraction of the products produced could be displayed. The new building primarily houses a new showroom and storage units. This has freed up space for the expansion of work spaces in the two original buildings.The expansion of Dolly Craft has enabled the employment and the empowerment of women in Kangemi and with more space, more staff are employed and a proper showroom is used to display the products available. Thus Dolly Craft can assist the mothers of Kangemi to feed their families and work and live with dignity.

 dolly nl 2011

The Mission Office along with a number of donations from the readers of our Newsletter and The Messenger Magazine gave a grant of €18,580 to expand the Dolly Craft facility.To view more pictures of the new building and to hear the stories of the employees working there please visit our website www.jesuitmissions.ie

Paul Kalenzi SJ is Director of Development for the
Jesuit Province of Eastern Africa.

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