Do you ever wonder what it’s like to be behind the scenes with our artisans in Africa? Awaiting my first trip, I wonder about language barriers, what it’s like to be inside an artisan workshop, and generally wonder about the many facets of normal, everyday life in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. I wish I could sit down face-to-face and ask artisans how this work has impacted their families and spiritual development. When I received the assignment of interviewing Jill Morley, our Executive Director of Operations, I couldn’t wait to ask all of my questions regarding her experiences from the last few weeks.

Building Relationships

Jill has traveled to Africa 8 times! Each time she visits, her excitement builds. She always arrives expectant to see God’s hand in her work with artisans. “One of the things I love about visiting African countries is all the people… Even as I am driving, to look out the window and see life happening is amazing.” In contrast to our fast-paced American lifestyle, Jill sees people in the developing world spend a lot of time being outside, walking along the streets, enjoying one another’s company. Jill delights in the face-to-face time she spent with 9 different artisan groups. Her favorite part of the trip? Reconnecting with them and continuing to build lasting relationships.

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Jill trains artisans during every visit, but it’s not always the production advice she expects to share.  As a degreed engineer, Jill finds herself explaining the most interesting cultural differences.  On this visit, she shared how post-it notes work! Isn’t it amazing how very different our cultures are, yet we are able to connect with one another through the little things… Like a post-it note?!

Business growth means more lives touched

The entrepreneurial spirit perseveres on the streets of Nairobi.

The entrepreneurial spirit perseveres on the streets of Nairobi.

 

I imagine working environments look quite different in Africa and they vary depending on location. Jill visited one of the largest urban slums in Africa and noted recent developments. “I have seen how workplaces have improved, and our artisans are now working in more organized and cleaner environments.”


As Karama visits artisans regularly, Jill documents changes in each group. “The biggest change I have seen is growth and space!” This growth and expansion reflects Karama’s mission to invest in and grow small-to-medium-sized businesses, as they are the foundation of healthy local economies.  “As our orders grow, they are able to hire more people.” Creating more work means MORE of everything we hope to accomplish...more families sustained with dignified work, more knowledge of the global marketplace, more capital infusing and stimulating local economies, and more lasting relationships.

temporary and eternal impact

“How does Karama’s work change lives?” I wondered out loud. Jill affirmed that she sees lives changed on every visit, most recently in the form of improved living conditions. “We have seen multiple artisans move into new homes... a step up from where they were.” In the course of the 8 visits, Karama’s impact continues to grow in tangible ways…from artisans’ children completing school and moving forward with training, to artisans developing leadership skills as work and opportunities increase.  

What’s the highest priority for Jill on each trip? She hopes that through respecting and honoring the artisans, they will see Christ. “We are witnesses to the Gospel through every interaction!” Jill enjoyed praying with the artisans and being able to add their prayer requests to our prayer list back home.

After listening to Jill and learning about her experiences, I love this takeaway: By providing dignified work for our artisans in African countries, their lives are improved... not only temporarily, but eternally.


Did I leave you longing for a visit to Ethiopia or Kenya? If you can’t schedule a trip today, maybe you will join us in our mission to alleviate poverty and make a lasting impact! One way you can help is by sharing our stories and products through an eParty! Contact us at hello@karamacollection.com to learn more.

 

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