ChildFund with Kiwi support is helping to preserve the heritage of the rural community of Emali in Kenya and create livelihoods and trade through an exciting new project facilitated by Wellington resident and artist Chris Delany. 

Photos: copyright ChildFund / Jake Lyell


Chris is an artist who for the past 20 years has worked with Pacific peoples to create livelihoods and preserve traditional crafts by helping to identify, design and seek out high-end market opportunities.


On her first visit to Kenya to ascertain the skills and resources already within the Emali community, Chris was shocked to learn that many of the women she spoke to only ate a proper meal every other day.


Given this project has the potential to provide sustainable livelihoods, her visit has galvanised the community and the ChildFund team in Emali. The rural township of Emali is extremely impoverished and many survive on farming alone but this is subject to the vagaries of the climate. With droughts becoming ever more frequent there is a desperate need for alternative sources of income.


The town is home to the Maasai, who are known for their elaborate beaded jewellery and Kamba, known for their baskets and carvings. ChildFund and Chris have helped provide the additional resources, tools and business training so that local artisans can produce the type of quality products that are sought after by tourists and boutiques.


Chris scoped potential high-end markets for the community’s products, including the Nairobi Museum and a five-star hotel chain. A New Zealand ethical trade boutique also expressed interest. While it is early days yet, the new business venture named MaKa Emali (after both tribes) has already received orders to the delight of the women and men of Emali.


Update: Kiwis can purchase MaKa Emali handwoven baskets at Iko-Iko stores in Auckland and Wellington.


We will keep you posted on updates as the venture progresses. If you would like to support this venture or find out more about the MaKa Emali craft group you can drop [email protected] a line. Please visit our Kenya country page to find out more about ChildFund New Zealand's work in the Emali community.

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