Sister Immaculata's Sisal Project for Rural Women
The Women of M'Pekala with their Sisal Bags
M'pekala is the name these women have given to this project, meaning "where I live". It refers to the fact that they are able to add to the prosperity of their community by fashioning and selling these products and not only by their traditional agricultural work.
This project is the brainchild of Sister Immaculata Mulyei, a Franciscan nun who once lived in the region and is well aware of the difficulty these woman face earning cash money, being hours away from the nearest town.
In the past she has raised money to supply cows, goats and chickens to ten groups of these women living in the remote Sekute area outside of Livingstone. But changing weather patterns bringing drought have made watering their animals difficult.
Sisal can be easily grown with little water, so this project making of woven sisal bags using natural dyes is a way of accommodating the difficulties of drought due to climate change in a place where water used to be abundant.. The goal is to produce their own sisal and to learn how to make handsome shoulder and hand bags of varying sizes.
Sister Immaculata Mulyei
I met Sr. Immaculata Mulyei in 2002, on my first visit the Mama Bakhita Cheshire Home.in Livingstone, Zambia. She is a small, trim and thoughtful person in her mid-seventies now, highly respected in the community, with a dry sense of humor and an abiding concern for rural women and their struggles. A modest and determined woman, she quietly searches for ways to accomplish her considerable goals: to help small groups of rural women to sustain themselves by adapting their economic endeavors to the changing environment.