Sisal Bags Empower Rural Women
At our first World Market Monday sale we ended with a fundraising event for special guest Sr. Immaculata Mulyei who described her women’s income initiative in Secute, Zambia. She named it “Mpekala” meaning “Where We Live” in the local language, Lozi. In gaining the means to produce income, the women are able to send their children to school. This is especially important for girls who often stand second in line to their brothers when a family can only afford to send one child.
Last year Sr. Immaculata spent several weekends walking from village to village assessing the needs of the women and then considering what endeavor might be best suited to those groups that showed serious interest.
Here in the US we were able to raise money for a pilot training program. Two professional basket makers from a nearby village were hired to teach the women how to make the baskets with prepared sisal. Step two was to plant sisal, a desert plant requiring very little water, to eventually provide the raw materials.
Sr. Immaculata brought with her from Zambia 16 finished bags to sell at our market and a power point presentation to tell the story. At the end of the presentation, people crowded to her table and bought all but three of the bags which is very good news for the women in Secute and will motivate them to further improve the details of the bags.
Because this is a sustainable project and can weather the vagaries of climate change, we are looking to find funds to start an eager second group. If you would like to contribute to growing this project, these women can gradually improve the quality of life in their home and community and educate their girls, reducing the need for early marriages.