The Story Behind Our Handcrafted Items

The Story Behind Our Handcrafted Items

Imagine begin unable to control your bladder and being ostracized by your community. Unfortunately, this is a reality many women have to live with every day. “More than 2 million young women live with untreated obstetric fistula in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa,” according to the World Health Organization.

Obstetric fistula is when a hole appears between a woman’s birth canal and the bladder or rectum. The condition can lead to skin infections, social isolation, and worse. Long and obstructed labor is often the cause of obstetric fistulas. The condition is treatable, but only if these women have access to necessary medical help.

The Giving Exchange wanted to support women who have been impacted by this condition, so we partnered with Women and Development Against Distress in Africa. WADADIA is a non-profit organization committed to changing the lives of women in Kenya. WADADIA provides medical treatment and job training to women who have been affected by Obstetric Fistula and HIV/AIDS.

Working with WADADIA

Thanks to our friend Shashana Packus, a WADADIA volunteer, we were able to put together the TGE Store, which is now offering handcrafted items from participants of WADADIA’s training program. We asked Shashana to share her experience working with WADADIA. Her answers to our questions are below.

Shashana Packus image
Shashana Packus coordinated the partnership between WADADIA and TGE.

How long have you been volunteering with WADADIA?

My University has an East Africa Internship opportunity for one student from each department. I applied for the Business School, and I was selected. I moved to Kenya for the summer of 2014, I lived with a host family in Mumias, Kenya, and interned full-time at WADADIA. The internship was nine weeks long. I stayed in touch with WADADIA and its founder, Habiba, continually. The first chance I had to return to Kenya was last August. It was so great being able to go back.

What types of programs does WADADIA support?

WADADIA takes women suffering from HIV/Aids or Fistula, that are living in small rural towns in Western Kenyan and gets them medical treatment, training to start a career, and the supplies needed to go out and start their own businesses.

WADADIA is one of the most amazing grass roots organizations that I’ve ever seen. A lot of organizations find one need and come up with a solution, Habiba, the founder of WADADIA, finds the root of the problem, gets a solution, and changes lives forever. Habiba has thought of EVERYTHING!

In Kenya, there are over 40 tribes, all of which have their own languages. Habiba knew that there were women in villages that only spoke their tribal language, and not the national language. Habiba didn’t want to only help the women who spoke the national language, she wanted to help all women. She hired community health workers who spoke the tribal languages to go into each tribe and see 20 patients a month. WADADIA solved the problem of finding the women others couldn’t. These women are often ostracized from their families and, even after treatment, have nowhere to go. WADADIA then wanted to be able to make more life-altering changes, so it came up with the educational training programs, psychosocial support to help empower the women, and supplies the women with a kit to start their own business.

Navy blue clutch purse available in the TGE Store.
Navy blue clutch purse available in the TGE Store.

How will The Store fundraiser benefit WADADIA? What will the funds go toward?

WADADIA is determined to make a lasting impact on the people it supports. The funds will go to the WADADIA education program. The money will help pay for the teachers and provide the students with the supplies they need to start their own organizations.

How many women does WADADIA help annually?

There are 114 Community Health Workers in Western Kenya. The workers administer monthly medical treatments to over 2200 women. WADADIA helps thousands of women annually, and has made permanent impacts on many communities in Western Kenya.

How has working with WADADIA impacted you?

WADADIA, the people who work there, and the founder, will forever be people that I admire and look up to. The work they are doing inspires me every day. They really are the change makers in their communities, so my goal is to support them in every way possible.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

The items in The Shop took my breath away when I saw them. WADADIA started the training program this year, and I knew that they were selling the items they were creating. I was so incredibly impressed by the creativity and beauty of the items the women made.

Women in the WADADIA training program handcrafted all of the items in the Shop.

The TGE Store

All of the items in The Store were created by women in the WADADIA training programs. This year there are 19 students who will complete the training programs. One hundred percent of the money raised by these items will go directly to WADADIA, and your donation goes far – $200 pays for a start-up kit for one of the graduates to begin their own business and $250 pays a month’s salary for a teacher.

The TGE store will be open through December 22, 2018, or as long as supplies last.

With the holidays quickly approaching, gifts from The Store will be the perfect, unique accessories to give your loved ones. Please help us spread the word about this amazing partnership by sharing the story on Facebook or another social account!