Amazing women of Chikumbuso

Our recent trip to Zambia was as usual humbling and inspiring. This was Claras’ first visit to Zambia and our first day was spent with the widows from Chikumbuso.  Chikumbuso always has an inviting and an incredibly peaceful environment and the women happily showed us around the facilities that show a well organised school for orphaned and underprivileged kids, a kitchen facility where lunches are provided for the students and the women and a small boarding facility.

Our chikumbuso bags are crocheted here in Ngombe compound which is one of Lusakas’ largest slums. Our shweshwe range of bags and cushion covers are also sewn at the center. We continue to be inspired by these women and their determination to improve their lives.

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New organic soft toys-panono panono

……Psst take a look at our new collection. We  have added a range of new colours to our collection Nsofwa, Kolwe and Nombe. Now we also have a small collection of organic crocheted rattles that are the perfect size for small baby hands. Our progress is slow and steady.

new organic knitted toys

Each new product requires months of preparation. New designs are sent to Zambia. Yarn is ordered from Tanzania. The ladies from little Ndaba work through the designs and make a number of prototypes which get sent back to us in Sweden. Further changes are made and then finally a new product range arrives.

soft toys and little hands

The economic situation in Zambia with dollar rates fluctuating on a daily basis, power and water shortages make planning and every day life for the average Zambian a nightmare and more so for the business person.

 

baby rattles

organic toys

Once the products are in Sweden we work on the photography, product descriptions and sales and marketing. We continue to work on improving marketing strategies to increase sales so that the ladies can continue knitting and earning an income. One steady step at a time. As we say in Zambia panono panono!

Mobile Technology changing lives for women in Zambia

We did it! I marvel at the possibilities that mobile phones and the Internet technology can provide for small producers in Africa. Outside of Monze- a remote area in Zambia, Malambo  Center , a women’s cooperative operate. Here embroidered, painted and stitched handcrafts are lovingly created. Once a month, a few woman take the long bus journey into the big city of Lusaka to sell their products to tourists and city dwellers at a monthly craft market. The crafts sold provide an additional income for the women who also survive by tilling the land.

egg warmers

embroidered giraffe egg warmers

 

Handcrafted Easter decoration

Handcrafted Easter decoration

I found the group via Facebook, came in contact with via e-mail, sent ideas on how I would like to change certain design. Via WhatsApp, I received pictures of the new design. I asked a friend to pick up my delivery when the women came to Lusaka and now these lovely egg warmers have arrived just in time in time for Easter. A long journey, but we did it.
Thank you internet, Facebook, Whatsapp, Celtel and MTN for making business with Africa a reality and helping people improve their everyday lives.

Malambo Center

Easter decorations from Malambo Cooperative  can  be found here:

Basket Love

I have always loved baskets. A passion that has been passed on from my mother and most certainly passed on from generations far back. My baskets in my home make nifty storage solutions in my home, while my grandmother and my great-grandmother would have used them for fishing, harvesting maize from the fields and storage of food untill next years harvest.

Elle Decoration South Africa article , “The art of weaving” brings life to basketmaking, almost like a song. I can almost feel the tropical winds blowing and hear that gentle rustle of the elephant grass that I am so familiar with.

In tune with the cycle of agriculture, basketmaking follows a seasonal rhythm. There is a time for gathering grass or rushes and a time for weaving them into baskets, sieves and granaries used for harvesting.

Grasses and reads used for basketmaking ( source Elle decoration South Africa)

basket weaving techniques

First row left – right: Combination of random and coil weave, twist weave, beginning of random weave. Second row left – right: Loop stitch woven into a Dilly bag, loop stitch woven, random weave. ( source Elle decoration)

Photographs above Niel Vosloo – Production Laureen Rossouw and Hendrik Coetzee

African baskets

African baskets from Yawama of Sweden

Mums’ sun-dried tomato marinade

Sun Dried tomato Pickle

Sun-dried tomato marinade from Chankwakwa

Mums’ Chankwakwa sun-dried tomato marinade is  a great weekend recipe that will add some zing to your week-end cooking.  Chankwakwa Sun-dried tomato and mango can be purchased in Sweden in the tropical food section of Yawama of Sweden.

Place 1 Pkt Chankwakwa sun-dried tomato in saucepan and cover with water, add 5 tbsp white wine vinegar and heat for 10 min. Drain tomatoes and place in jar. Cover with olive oil, 4 gloves of roughly chopped garlic, a handful of chopped parsley, or fresh basil or herbs of your choice. Add a dash of fresh chilli if you like for an extra tang. Your tomatoes are ready to throw into a green salad, are great as pizza topping or added to a hot stew.

My mum Dorothy has always been a lover of good food, a visionary leader and an entrepreneur. In the 70s she opened a restaurant serving traditional Zambian dishes. In the 90s she opened a bakery offering fresh-baked bread – a luxury at the time. Her most recent venture is a drying plant for both fruit and vegetable. Here both her and my dad, work with numerous small-scale farmers who provide fresh sun ripened produce, that is processed through their plant. Fair trade and ecological practices are at the heart of their production.

This is an old picture from the early days, when Chankwakwa first started training small-scale farmers on tomato growing techniques.

Farmer training

Farmers being trained on tomato growing with treadle pump irrigation systems

Read more about the work that Chankwakwa is doing with small farmers and their exciting product range which includes jams, sauces and soya flour here

Bring out the safari in your kids room

Here are a couple of ideas where the use of subtle tones of olive-green can create an earthy safari feeling in your kids room or your library for that matter. Cute cuddly plush toys such as monkeys, elephants, zebras and or even the rubber or plastic varieties will add to the savanna theme.  Ultra trendy in Sweden at the moment are old school anatomy, biology and botany posters.  Fluffy rugs such as cow hide or sheep skin will add a more tribal vibe. A golden rule. Keep it scandinavian simplistic!

Yawama of Sweden Zebra cushion and our eco-friendly cow would just add to the authenticity of the theme. Maybe the dairy cow is questionable- but after all these are true safari creatures, hand made in Africa.

Olive green zebra cushion with knitted cow

Olive green zebra cushion with knitted cow from Yawama of Sweden

http://hemma-net.blogspot.se/2012/03/inspiration-barnrum-fran-mint-till.html

Olive green bedroom for kids. Source Pure and Noble

Shades of green from Skona hem

Olive green wall for a boy’s room source: ilovebokkie

Olive green from elledecoration Sweden