The year 2014 was an exciting one for Karama and all of our staff, artisans, and donors. We were blessed with opportunities to travel, to deepen our relationships with our artisan partners, and to hire additional employees. We could not be more grateful for our families, fans, and donors; because of your support, Karama has experienced growth and progress toward our financial and spiritual goals.
The winter months laid the foundation for many important events and changes to come. In January, Dorothy Mrema and Ashley Collins both interviewed for the position of Artisan Coordinator, which would be based in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. The Board also met to discuss plans for the coming year and to select the staff member for the position. Dorothy was officially hired in February. In March, Dorothy arrived and immediately traveled to Iringa with Ali for a visit to a long-time Karama partner.
In the spring, Karama staff made several important trips. Jill traveled to Ethiopia in April along with Dorothy and Ali. They visited several artisan groups and made new discoveries, which has created new product lines and increased overall sales. Jill, Dyan, Ali, and Dorothy traveled through Rwanda to visit women basket weavers in southern Tanzania. May was a busy month as well. Dorothy and Ali traveled to Uganda to visit our paper bead artisans and to Kenya as well. They met Stephen in Kibera for the first time and began a valuable partnership. Dorothy, Ali, and Dyan worked hard to prepare for the Artisan Market, which was a huge success. Ashley was also officially hired.
The summer was focused on visiting artisans based in Tanzania. In June, Ali left to return to Nashville, TN with her husband for the next chapter in their lives. Dorothy traveled to Zanzibar to visit artisans and collect orders in July. She also made a trip to Tanga in northern Tanzania to visit an artisan. The YoungLife Freedom Walk took place over the course of the summer, and Dorothy, Ali, Dyan, and many other friends and family members took part in that powerful experience. August was spent visiting local artisans in Dar Es Salaam.
The fall was full of changes and adventures. In September, Ashley arrived in Dar. She and Dorothy navigated this new partnership and visited local artisans. They made a trip to Kenya and Arusha in October to visit with several artisan groups. They collected stories and products. In November, Dorothy and Ashley traveled to Ethiopia to explore new partnerships and deepen relationships with current partners. They visited the Ethiopian Artisan Bazaar and three major artisan partners to plan for future product lines and collect samples. Karama also led a campaign to raise money for Ebola relief in West Africa. Dorothy, Ashley, and Dyan helped organize the Artisan Market, the biggest yet. In December, Dyan, Dorothy, and Ashley attended Swahili Fashion Week in support of African designers. Karama raised money for YoungLife Malawi in honor of the YL leaders who passed away in December 2013. Ashley went home for Christmas and worked in the Karama boutique in Evansville. Dyan and her family left for the US as well, where they will stay for the next several months.
Karama grows because of the relationships between staff members and artisans, between employees and employers, and between the organization and our supports. We are able to grow because of the love poured out by all those involved - whether a Facebook fan, an artisan, or a Board member. We are strengthened through compassion, justice, and dignity - and in the belief that every life is valid, every life has purpose, and every life bears the image of God.
Thank you for making 2014 incredible.