We are happy to announce the opening of our online shop. We have been working with women of Kipsongo Slum to design, create and market an array of products available for sale both within Kenya and around the globe.
Kipsongo Slum is one of the worst slums in Kenya with families often living 12 - 15 people in each "house". Houses in Kipsongo consist of plastic bags tied together and stretched over sticks to form a hut, usually about 8 by 8 feet in size. Up to 20 people will live in one of these huts, sleeping on nothing but the dirt floor. During rainy season, this creates a huge medical problem as many residents end up with parasites and other tropical diseases without any financial means to access treatment. Kipsongo Slum came to be in the 1970s when refugees from the northern Kenya region of Turkana were forced to flee their homes due to violence and ended up in internally displaced peoples (IDP) camps just outside the town of Kitale. As often happens with IDP camps, the government abruptly shut the camp and the IDPs had no means of returning home, and no homes to return to even if they could come up with the finances. With nowhere to go, they stayed in the camp with little or no education and no resources, and the camp eventually became the slum that it is today. CGA, in partnership with other local non-profit organizations such as the Sister Freda Foundation, has worked in Kipsongo Slum for decades offering free medical clinics, schooling and economic assistance. Conditions, however, remain horrendous, and this new initiative is aimed at bringing improved economic well-being and restoring dignity to Kipsongo residents. Still in its initial phase, the program plans to expand its offerings throughout the next few months and years.
Currently, the store offers an array of jewelry, clothing, bags, fabrics, cards, artwork and other traditional local crafts. All items are designed and created by Kipsongo women and they are paid a fair price upfront for their time and resources. All items are marked with the artists names so the buyer knows who made the item and who they are supporting. All additional profits are currently being split between developmental projects in Kipsongo and towards supporting Lenana Girls High School. We are presently partnering with New York based designer Laura Katzman, San Diego based consultant Alyssa Kitlas and Chicago based consultant Krystina Finn to design a high-end clothing, jewelry and handbag line that will be sourced and manufactured locally and distributed throughout East Africa and globally. The objective of the line is to showcase on a global level the talent and creativity of Kipsongo women by blending traditional East African kanga fabrics with modern high-end fashion and design. The project aims to transform Kipsongo Slum into Kipsongo Village with the vision of improving its economic well-being to a point where the entire village is self-sustainable and free of aid dependence. This village will include a primary and secondary school, health clinic, modern Kenyan housing, shops, services and agriculture, livestock and poultry projects. Stay tuned to our website for updates on this new and exciting project, and please visit our online store to view our current offerings. If you would like to get involved in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us!