By: Jennifer Wiley
When you are here volunteering in Kenya, don’t forget to visit some of our local artists. And when we say artists, we mean jewelry makers, canvass painters, wood workers and flip flop makers! You can find things like this all over Kenya of course and most of the volunteers venture off to the downtown markets or visit the Maasai Market on Thursdays at Junction. You can find some wonderful pieces in those places, but there is more!
In Kibera, I had the chance to meet a very talented man named George! After 5 years of visiting him, I never leave Kenya without a pair of his flip flops, actually a handful! At home in the United States, I have a huge laundry basket that is filled with different designs and shapes from over the years and I call it “my basket of George.” At last count, there were 53 pair! George is definitely a a stop you don’t want to miss in your travels through Kibera! Want to find him? Just ask Dan or James to show you the way, he is not far from the volunteer house. He makes the good thick soled flip flops and his beading partners do colorful designs.
George is one of many talented artists in Kibera. Along the rail tracks, there is a great little place where the men of the community make cowbone necklaces, bracelets, keychains, salt and pepper shakers (very awesome!) and more. They go each morning to the local slaughter houses and get the cow bone scraps that are tossed. They bring them back to their shop and create the most beautiful pieces of jewelry. If you ask, they even let you see inside the shop and see the process too! Very unique opportunity! Want to find these guys? Just ask Dan or James while you are on your Kibera Tour activity! It is another stop you don’t want to miss!
Wait, there is more! The paper beaded jewelry….. you can find it almost anywhere but the Weekend Market in downtown has a wonderful spot by Ms. Judith! I visit her every time and always get a great deal. She has different colors and designs and something you could wear with every outfit! Be sure to find her if you go to the weekend market downtown or on your City Tour and tell her Jennifer sent ya! Depending upon how much time you have, you could also visit the soapstone makers direct. Go where they make it and buy direct if you can, but they are a bit of a distance away. Want to find them? Just ask Joe or John and be prepared to hire one of the trusted NVS drivers to taxi you there and back!
Hope this helps as you look to take a piece of Kenya home with you!