Meet Hannah

“We measure our success not on our profit-gain, but rather how we can impact lives. My hope is to see many people come through Amani and learn the necessary skills to provide for their families. Seeing women gain confidence, grow in their faith, and have their dreams flourish is more profitable to us at Amani than any dollar amount.”

- Hannah Lenore, Amani Liberia Country Director

Hannah posing with one of her dresses.

Hannah posing with one of her dresses. (photo credit: bessbrownlee.com)

 

Hannah strides around at a solid 6’2”. She holds a degree is in fashion design and has presented stunning apparel on numerous runways. She had a strong desire to make it New York, but 4 years ago God closed those doors and opened up new ones in Africa. This California-raised lady has lived in Yekepa, Liberia for the past 3 years, where she works as a fashion designer/missionary. 

 

amani ya juu fair trade

Last year, Hannah was able to get a handle on export for Amani Liberia products, a difficult task. (photo credit: bessbrownlee.com)

Hannah is just tall enough to place her feet firmly in two distinctively separate worlds. She is, without a doubt, a true missionary. She carries herself with grace towards the impossible obstacles that inhabit this country and trusts the Lord deeply. Most recently, she has shown tremendous courage and faith in the midst of a nearby outbreak of Ebola. Last year, she was able to get a handle on export for Amani Liberia products, a difficult task. On a daily basis Hannah is helping Amani ya Juu to bring sustainable development to Liberians who have been ravaged by war, both physically and emotionally.

fair trade African clothing

Hannah is also undeniably a woman of fashion who represents her work here through her sense of style. (photo credit: bessbrownlee.com)

Hannah is also undeniably a woman of fashion who represents her work here through her sense of style. She expresses herself by what she wears, and has yet to outwardly succumb to any version of a missionary you’ve ever seen. She loves throwing her outfits together each morning, and when you hear the familiar jingle of her bracelets coming through the doors of Amani you know you will see her in an edgy outfit—yet void of fashion faux pas. The girl is simply stylish. So stylish, in fact, that she was featured in “Here am I”, a blog about missionaries who take on non-traditional roles.

 

fair trade clothing africa

Hannah with one of her dresses. (photo credit: bessbrownlee.com)

 

And now, a flash flood of important information on Hannah Lenore:

- She helped to oversee the complete renovation of Amani’s building from war-ravaged, roofless skeleton to a place where beautiful products are made, with tiled floors, plumbing, windows, and doors.

- She knows it is always a good time for popcorn.

- She grew up in Girls Scouts, so she knows the importance of bringing girls together to build their worth and value. She started and oversees the Amani Girls Club, an after school group that empowers young girls to rise above the strong pull to prostitution in Yekepa.

- She has a pet monkey named Colekeh, which means “we will do it” in Mano.

- When she comes home for Christmas each year, she designs and creates a toy for her nephew. These toys often become Amani products later. Her most recent one is the Colekeh Monkey Doll.

Hannah has helped to create a place where peace resonates—and is beginning to spread outward into the community. She respects and deeply loves the seamstresses and tailors at Amani Liberia, and has committed to struggle for economic and spiritual freedom alongside them for the long haul.

 

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Hannah working with Dorcas at a visit to Amani Kenya. (photo credit: bessbrownlee.com)

To learn more about Hannah, check out her personal blog

 You can support Amani Liberia by donating to programs or purchasing products a made at Amani Liberia.

 

Forgiveness Serves

Amani Liberia, photo credit Ashlee Gadd

Amani Liberia, photo credit Ashlee Gadd

April brings Easter, a time when many spend time reflecting on the topic offorgiveness. Izetta, a woman who works at Amani Liberia, has chosen to forgive others on several occasions, bringing her closer to God.In 1991, she fell in love with a man from Benin, a country near Liberia, married him, and became pregnant. “It was clear from the beginning that there were differences in terms of almost everything; culture, language, etc,” says Izetta. Nonetheless, she dutifully followed him back to his country. But she was harshly rejected by his family. “My crime? I was a foreigner. They couldn’t come to terms with the fact that he had married someone from another country and culture.”

Izetta was essentially turned into a slave. “I had to do things (in Benin) that, back in Liberia, existed in the realm of the unthinkable.” Eventually Izetta had no choice but to return back to Liberia.

Izetta began working at Amani several years ago, and she prays for her former tormentors at the center daily. During devotion, she learned to let go of the pain they had caused. “We all must realize forgiveness serves as spiritual nourishment for us.”

Izetta may live in a place unlike your own but women all over the world share her story. This Easter season, when we remember how we are forgiven, the ladies of Amani ya Juu encourage you to forgive others in your heart and find peace through Christ.

Izetta learning to sew.

Izetta learning to sew.

fair trade African center

Izetta (center) with several members of the Amani Liberia family.

Amani Instagram Give-Away!

April Showers Bring May Flowers!

In honor of the spring season, we are inviting you to enter in the contest for our first Instagram give-away! If you are selected as the winner, you will be the lucky owner of our super cute spring-inspired Robertsport Clutch! This clutch can also be used as a wonderful Mother’s Day present or graduation gift!

clutch

The original idea of an Amani in Africa grew out of the civil conflict in the West African nation of Liberia. This clutch was handcrafted using West African fabrics and natural dyes. This fair trade bag represents and supports Africa’s pursuit of peace. Sturdy cotton printed fabric. Fully lined with embossed cotton accent. Single zippered interior pocket. Magnetic snap closure with brass medallion embellishment. Dimensions: 12″x 6″

How does the contest work?

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1. Follow our Amani Instagram account: @amaniyajuu

2. Repost the photo of this Robertsport Clutch. (We will have already posted a pic of the clutch on our Instagram account to initiate the contest.)

3. Tag @amaniyajuu in the photo.

4. Caption the photo: make sure to use “#AmaniGiveAway #FairTrade”

Rules:

Only US residents are eligible. Sorry! We are unable to ship outside the US!

Contest begins on April 14th at 1pm CT and ends April 18th at 1pm CT.

The winner will be chosen through an automatic scrambling system and will be announced and contacted through our IG account on April 18th by 5pm CT.

Multiple entries from the same account will not be entered in the giveaway.

Anyone found to use multiple accounts to enter will be ineligible.

 

Good Luck!

Fair Trade Friday: AmaniDC in the News!

Originally posted on AmaniDC:

We love it that more and more consumers are beginning to ask questions about where their products are coming from and about how their products are sourced! Amani ya Juu is endoresed by the Fair Trade Federation, which closely monitors working conditions and the way that materials are created and sourced.

We want to take a moment to thank several organizations who are spreading the Fair Trade love by featuring our products and work in the past several weeks!

1) The One Campaign: The One Campaign is co-founded by Bono and is a nonpartisan “campaigning and advocacy organization of more than 3.5 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa… because the facts show extreme poverty has already been cut in half and can be virtually eliminated by 2030, but only if we act with urgency now.” They recently featured the story of…

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Up-cycled the African Way

monkeys

At Amani ya Juu, our focus is spreading peace & empowering women, but we’re also earth friendly! 

Check out some of our “upcycled” products made from recycled and scrap materials!

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Cement Toiletry Case ($14)

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Laptop Case ($24)

As Liberia rebuilds after it’s long civil war, many new buildings are going up, providing our center with an abundance of forgotten cement bags near construction sites. On their way to and from work, the Amani seamstresses in Liberia pick up the empty cement bags they find on the ground. They wash them and then recycle them by turning them into fair trade products.

Remember the sock monkeyAmani Liberia has “upcycled” the original designwith an African makeover! Meet Colekeh, whose name means “We will do it” in Mano, a tribal language in Liberia. Read more about Colekeh here.

Colekeh Monkey Doll ($28)

Colekeh Monkey Doll ($28)

Colekeh is named after a real Green Vervet monkey owned by our Liberia Country Director, Hannah. He lives nearby the Amani Libera center and loves hanging around as the seamstresses and tailors stitch!

The real Colekeh in Liberia

The real Colekeh in Liberia

Our External Artisans

Playful or powerful, classic or colorful, you will find something for every taste and every pocket at the Nairobi Maasai Market.  A bazaar has grown from a few women selling their beaded wares to a world class craft market that offers a feast of fine pieces. True to its nomadic roots, the Maasai market is hosted in different locations each day of the week. 

Nairobi Market

Nairobi Maasai Market Stalls

Over the years Amani has sought creative ways to support training for the marginalized women who come through her gate. Each vendor who supplies us with jewelry is a partner in this vision since each external product, as we call jewelry from the market, has become an additional revenue stream for Amani that ensures overhead is met without cost to the women. These pieces are sold in Amani shops, each accompanied with a partnership tag. “We are thankful for these great partnerships with vendors from Maasai Market and applaud them for their creativity”,  says Amani Country Director Joyce Muraya. 

Nairobi Market

Beautiful Maasai bead work

One of the fun things for our Amani Kenya Warehouse department is picking out unique jewelry pieces for Amani ya Juu.  Milli, who receives external products, has an eye for exceptional quality and uniqueness which guarantees that you will find, in the Amani Kenya shop and on website  amaniafrica.org,  great accessories for a day in the office, on safari or for an evening out.

Nairobi Market

Nairobi Market

The Nairobi Maasai Market has plenty of options!

News from Liberia: Ebola Outbreak sparks concern along Guinea/Liberia border

usaamani:

Please pray for our Amani Liberia center.

Originally posted on AmaniDC:

Amani would like to ask for your prayers and thoughts on behalf of our Liberia center, as well as on behalf of the victims of the recent Ebola outbreak in Guinea.

The center of the outbreak has occurred across the Guinea/Liberia border, about 20 miles distant from the Amani Liberia center.

Ebola is a hemorrhagic fever which occurs primarily among humans and primates, but is spread by other animals, including livestock and fruit bats.  Alarmingly, it has a fatality rate of up to 90% and has no known vaccine or cure. This is the first outbreak of the disease in Guinea, and is thought to have spread through eating bushmeat (wild animals), including smoked bat and spicy bat soup, a traditional food of the area. The Guinean government has banned the eating of bats in hopes of stemming the spread of the disease.

Although there have not been any confirmed…

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Amani YA JUU

usaamani:

Great Amani post from our friend Anne!

Originally posted on TalesAlongTheWay:

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The Project 

This group is a sewing and training program for marginalized women established in Nairobi, Kenyon, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Liberia. Amani women are working together through faith in God who provides a peace that transcends all cultural  and ethnic  differences. It portrays  a picture of diversity with women coming from the above countries to work together for the welfare of them all.

The Purpose

Amani is committed to holistic development. Women gain experience in stitching, quality control, purchasing , book keeping , management, and design. As new women  enter the program, they are mentored in quality workmanship with strong emphasis on ethical business practices and harmonious relationship with people of different backgrounds.DSC_0022

The Product

The ultimate product of Amani are women of peace. In the face of conflict and poverty these women have regained stability  and are sharing this gift of peace in her homes, communities and nations…

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Watoto Burundi Children’s Camp

“We need to train children from an early age in peace, unity, and reconciliation.”

- Goreth, Amahoro Burundi Country Director

 

Amani Watoto in Kenya
Amani Watoto in Kenya

Three times a year, production at the Amani Kenya center shuts down and the focus shifts to the children of the trainees. The event is a day camp called Amani Watoto, “Children of Peace” in Swahili. The children celebrate peace and forgiveness through games, crafts, and stories. Though they come from different ethnic groups, they learn to accept each other and play together regardless of differences.The camp is run by Amani ya Juu mothers contributing their unique skills of teaching, organizing, and cooking. Goreth, now the Burundi Country Director, took part in Amani Watoto in Kenya as a refugee from Burundi.

Peace is something needed in children, so they will be thinking of peace in the future,” says Goreth. After several years in Kenya as refugees from Burundi, Goreth and her husband chose to bring the peace they had seen at Amani Kenya to their home. Today, the Burundi center employs 42 women and now Goreth is on a mission to bring peace to the next generation. As a country, Burundi has seen an incredible amount of violence. Goreth feels the key to the future of the country is children of peace. “They have a long life ahead of them, they will be models for this nation. The children of Amahoro are from different tribes, backgrounds, and religions. They should be working together.”

Goreth is asking that you help bring Amani Watoto to Burundi.  Donations made to Watoto Burundi will go to teaching materials, crafts, & hot lunches. To donate online, visit amaniafrica.org/programs.

Goreth, Amahoro Burundi Dirctor

Goreth, Amahoro Burundi Dirctor

Meet the families of Amahoro Burundi

Hear from just a few of the mothers and children who will benefit from Watoto Burundi

Lydia with her three boys

Lydia with her three boys

 Lydia’s husband is a polygamous man with at least 5 known wives. In her 6 years with Amahoro Burundi, she has earned money to pay for food, rent, clothing, and school fees for her boys. In addition, she has purchased land where she will build a house for her children.

“Amahoro has brought blessings of peace in our home,” said her boys. “We have food, we go to school, and we have clothes and friends.”

Anastasia, mother to 11 children

Anastasia, mother to 11 children

Anastasia has been with Amahoro for 7 years, and cares for her children with the help of her loving and respectful husband.

“We have very big hope,” said one of her many children. “We are all in school and eat twice a day. We used to eat once in two days. We have good health and hope for a better future.”

Anastasia is proud to provide for her family. “I earn a salary,” she says. “My role is to take care of women’s strength through cooking for them and taking care of them everyday for lunch.”

Esperence with her family

Esperence with her family

Esperence has been with Amahoro for 5 years, and her husband repairs the machines as a volunteer.

“We are a happy family and loved by God. Amahoro is a door for us.” says Esperence. She shares that just a few years ago, she and her husband shared one small banana between the two of them and their 2 children for 3 days. “But now, we are so glad to eat twice a day.”

Esperence and her husband are happy to be a part of Amahoro. “We live in peace and we love each other,” she says.

 

To donate online, visit amaniafrica.org/programs.

Send checks to:

AMANI FOUNDATION

P.O. Box 28133

Chattanooga, TN 37424

*When writing checks, please indicate the donation is for “Watoto Burundi” in the memo line.