Happy Birthday to Us!

A letter from our Founder and Executive Director to you…

unnamed

 

Jambo from Amani Kenya!

Becky Chinchen, Amani ya Juu Founder/Executive Director

Becky Chinchen, Founder/Executive Director

 

I’d like to personally thank you for the gift of your friendship to Amani ya Juu! Your support—whether through financial gifts, product purchases, or visits to a center—has encouraged us and enabled us to come this far. That makes us want to celebrate!

This summer marks the 18th year since Amani ya Juu began in my living room with 3 refugee women.  After fleeing from Liberia, I landed in Nairobi, Kenya among refugees like myself. I saw a need to affirm the dignity of those around me through empowering work and a safe community. We started with a small personal loan, a pattern for placemats, and four hurting hearts seeking healing and peace.

Today, thousands of people (women, their children and spouses, and visitors) have been impacted by God’s peace through Amani centers in 6 different countries.

Over the years, wear and tear that occurs naturally when many people move through a space has begun to take its toll on the Amani Kenya center.Renovations are desperately needed in order to maintain the beautiful facility that contributes to women finding dignity and peace on a daily basis.

Celebrate with us by giving a gift to Amani on her 18th birthday. Pick a project and be a part of sowing peace.

In Peace from Above—Amani ya Juu,

Becky Chinchen
Founder/Executive Director
Amani ya Juu

 

 

 

unnamed-2

Some stories have come full circle when women are able to “graduate” from Amani and start their own small businesses, spreading peace in various communities. Rahab is one example. To read her story, click here.

 

womens sewing project africa

Renovations are needed in order to maintain the beautiful facility that contributes to women finding dignity and peace on a daily basis.

 

Click here to make your gift!

 

5 Year Later, Where is Uganda Now?

This article was written by Clarissa Donaldson, an Amani ya Juu intern serving at Amani Uganda.

womens sewing group Uganda

A woman working with her child at Amani Uganda.

A peace statue stands tall in the center of the plaza, commemorating the triumphant day that peace was restored in Gulu, Uganda. No longer are bullets raining in a storm of hate, yells of soldiers and the cries of children sprinkled with the cold clatter of machine guns firing deep into the night. No longer do refugees run from the place they once called home, tearful with uncertainty of whether they would ever be able to return. No longer do children find themselves invisible with injustice forced into their small hands and young wombs.

The world watched and cried with Uganda during its time of war. And twenty years later, the world celebrated with Uganda as its peace statue was joyously built in July 2009. With this declaration of peace, the world showered Uganda with gifts and organizations of sympathy and helped Uganda rebuild. They showed love to the invisible children as they grew and held their hands as they wrestled with their painful past and tried to transition into a new season of life.

And then after a while, the eyes of the world got tired and moved to other hardships in the world. The nonprofits that had shown so much kindness to Uganda became invisible to the world’s eyes. The once-generous support dwindled, interest waned, and many nonprofits closed. While these nonprofits had envisioned their job skills training to enable sustainable long-term employment, countless Ugandans found themselves unable to save in the thick of severe inflations and unable to access enough capital to start up a business of their own. And now the once-joyous peace statue stands over a land of adults still struggling to reconcile their pasts, forgive their abductors, and provide for themselves and their families. Many are still desperately waiting for true peace in their lives.

One Ugandan refugee, Simprosa, fled Gulu when the violence erupted and took refuge in Nairobi, Kenya. There she found Amani ya Juu and experienced God’s peace in her life. She was taught how to sew, design, and run a business, and was discipled in her faith by the ladies at Amani Kenya. With the declaration of peace in Gulu, Uganda, Simprosa returned home to Gulu. Soon she realized that many who had found refuge and received job skills training from various nonprofits during the war were now jobless and struggling. They desired to work and use their skills, yet found themselves unable to find employment or access the means to start a business of their own. Her heart broke for them. Led by God in prayer, she sought to show to them the same peace that she had been shown through starting an Amani ya Juu in Uganda. Starting with just one woman and one machine, she watched as God grew Amani Uganda to what it is today and opened the door for many Uganda women to find true peace and reconciliation through the gospel. Her prayer is to help as many women as possible, enabling them to experience long-term healing and earn fair wages to provide for their families in a place saturated in God’s mercy and peace.

fair trade african sewing group bags

Simprosa, Country Director of Amani Uganda

 

african purse sewing group

Amani Uganda is located in Gulu, Uganda. Simprosa, the Country Director, uses a motorcycle to pick up fabric and other sewing materials!

God’s peace isn’t always seen through times of prosperity and peace. Trials and warfare allow God to show us just how precious and powerful His peace is, a peace that transcends cultural and ethnic differences and reveals to us our true value as beloved children of God. In the face of conflict and poverty, Amani ya Juu offers a place of peace for marginalized women in Africa, helping women to regain stability and share the gift of peace in their homes, communities, and nations through sewing and reconciliation. Amani offers a wide selection of Fair Trade, high-quality products: handbags, home and kitchen décor, jewelry, and children’s items, all made out of local African materials. Amani Uganda is one of Amani’s seven centers internationally. We invite you to visit us on our website, amaniafrica.org, come visit one of our centers, or pray with us for the continued ministry through Amani ya Juu.

women bring kids to work

Amani Uganda seamstresses are invited to bring their little ones to work, making the lives of single mothers much easier.

 

african non-profit

This article was written by Clarissa, an Amani Uganda intern

Meet Christine from Congo

A Q&A with Christine, a refugee from Congo who works at Amani Kenya.

 

fair trade african organization

Christine (left), Amani Kenya

1) Tell us about your role in Amani.

I stitch signature hot pads & oven gloves, safari satchel and coin purse, e.t.c.

Tamaduni Coin Purse, made by Christine at Amani Kenya

Tamaduni Coin Purse, made by Christine at Amani Kenya

2) What have you learned while working with your team? 

I have learnt to stay with different people. When I am going through some difficulties, I like to share the situation with them.

 

fair trade african sewing

The sewing room at Amani Kenya.

3) What is the most unforgettable memory that you have from working with Amani so far?

When my father was sick, I was given some financial help to cater for my travel needs to Congo. I was unable to do it by myself.

fair trade african products handmade

Just part of the Amani Kenya family.

4) In what way do you think the program has benefited you and other ladies at Amani Kenya?

The program has helped me financially to cater for my family and also spiritual growth.

 

My experience with gender inequality in Ethiopia

usaamani:

Interesting blog on women in Ethiopia, written by a female Peace Corps volunteer. Gender equality has come a long way in many parts of the world, but we’ve got a long way to go in countries like Ethiopia…

Originally posted on Ethiopian Escapades:

After 26 months in Ethiopia, there are a handful of things I can expect each and every day.

1. I will engage in a minimum of 5 conversations where I only understand about 70% of what was discussed (and both parties will usually nervously chuckle and nod at the end of the conversation to disguise our mutual cluelessness).
2. I’ll drink at least 16 ounces of coffee.
3. I will gain a new appreciation for the enduring strength of Ethiopian women.

A few months ago, a fellow PCV recently wrote a blog about the difficulties of being a female volunteer in Ethiopia. Her words say it best. http://800daysinethiopia.blogspot.com/2014/03/on-being-hated.html

Being a female PCV is tough, but “tough” doesn’t even being to describe what it’s like to be a female Ethiopian. Here are some of my observations of the challenges of Ethiopian women and girls in my community. These are my personal…

View original 1,368 more words

Peanut Brittle Recipe

Esther at Amani Liberia uses her Amani money to buy materials for peanut brittle, then sells them in her community all week in a plastic bucket! Check out our favorite Peanut Brittle recipe here!

baking with amani ya juu

Confession: we found this image on opensourcefood.com. Every time we make our own peanut brittle, it goes too quickly for photographs, so we had to borrow her photo of a very similar recipe.

amani liberia

Esther on her back porch making “ground pea” (peanut) candy! She does this every Sunday after church.

Our favorite Peanut Brittle Recipe:

vegetable oil spray
2 cups sugar
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tbsp salt
12 ounces dry roasted, salted peanuts (do not chop)

* we obviously recommend fair trade for all ingredients when possible! Try your local health food store or Whole Foods!

Directions:

1) Spray a baking sheet lightly with vegetable oil. Add the sugar, butter, corn syrup and 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp water to a large saucepan, and stir together until all of the sugar is wet.

2) Cook over high heat until the mixture turns a medium golden.

3) Immediately remove from the heat, and carefully whisk in the baking soda followed by the salt (taking care, as the caramel will rise in the pan and bubble).

4) Switch to a wooden or metal spoon, and fold in the peanuts. Quickly pour the mixture onto the sheet pan, and spread it out over the pan using the back of the spoon before it starts to harden (it may not cover the whole pan).

5) Once the brittle is completely cool, break it into bite sized pieces with a blunt object.

We found this recipe at openfoodsource.com. It has been thoroughly tested and approved by Amani staff!

amani ya juu liberia africa

Esther working at Amani Liberia.

Whether you have some treats to bake or you know someone who does this hot pad set will make the baking process a lot more festive.

Whether you have some treats to bake or you know someone who does this hot pad set will make the baking process a lot more festive.

Shop Amani. Spread Peace.

Check out amaniafrica.org for all your baking accessories!

Sugar Cookie Recipe

fair trade cookies

Happy Sugar Cookie Day!

July 9th is National Sugar Cookie Day! Here’s to one of our favorite holidays! Check out our frosting-friendly collection of baking accessories & recipes from the ladies of Amani ya Juu! Baking is a perfect way to keep kiddos busy this summer with hours of sweet treats. Here are some of our favorite sugar cookie tips, tricks, and recipes  from Amani Chattanooga, where our US warehouse is located!
fair trade cookies

Our favorite Sugar Cookie recipe

Recipe makes 4 dozen
2 & 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* we obviously recommend fair trade for all ingredients when possible! Try your local health food store or Whole Foods!

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.
We found this recipe at allrecipes.com. It has been thoroughly tested and approved by Amani staff!
fair trade sugar cookies with amani ya juu

Our Sugar Cookie Tips and Tricks

Valuable Sugar Cookie advice from Amani Chattanooga Photographer/Event Planner/Master Baker, Molly Gardner

Molly Gardner, Amani Chattanooga Photographer

Amani Chattanooga Photographer/Event Planner/Master Baker, Molly Gardner

1.) Try using a dash of almond extract in addition to vanilla. It will add a depth to the flavor of the cookies. Just warn nut allergic folk of its addition. :)
2.) For the best sugar cookie glaze, heat 1 Tbsp butter + 1/2 tsp of an extract of your choice (vanilla, almond, mint, orange, etc…) in a saucepan with the called for liquid ingredients. Better yet, substitute heavy cream for whatever the recipe is calling for. Bring everything to just simmering and whisk in the sugar, etc…
3.) Keep the dough COLD. Cold ingredients (butter, eggs, etc..). CHILLED after mixing and before rolling out (it helps to pat into flattened disks to ease the rolling process). Cold once cut out and put in the oven. The only time they should be warm is when next to a glass of COLD milk. ;)
fair trade cookies

Try using a dash of almond extract in addition to vanilla.

Batik Hostess Apron $26

Keep the frosting off your frock with this handmade apron from Amani Kenya!

Batik Hostess Apron $26

Bake your sweet treats in style! Original batiked design on 100% cotton.

Shop Amani. Spread Peace.

 

All of these images were taken by Amani Chattanooga Photographer/Event Planner, Molly Gardner.

Kilimanjaro Cookie Recipe

IMG_9324_792x600-2

Amani Kenya is known for its delicious—and friendly—cafe in Nairobi!

Amani Kenya’s cafe is known all over Nairobi for delicious sweet treats. Check out the Amani Kenya recipe for the Kilimanjaro Cookie! The white peaks of this majestic cookie get their name from the snow-capped summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, visible from Nairobi, Kenya on a clear day. Guarantees to instill warm feelings of distant grandeur when paired with friends and a cup of chai tea!

65

Confession: we found this image on chellascommoncents.com. Every time we make these cookies, they go too quickly for photographs, so we had to borrow her photo of a very similar cookie!

Kilimanjaro Cookie Recipe

* we obviously recommend fair trade for all ingredients when possible! Try your local health food store or Whole Foods!

1 cup Butter

1 & 1/3 cups brown sugar

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon sale

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

4 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups flower

2 cups macadamia nuts**

2 cups chopped white chocolate bar or chips

2 cups coconut**

**coconut can be omitted or substituted with extra flour and coconut extract, if necessary if there are allergies. The macadamia nuts can be omitted as well!

Directions:

1) In a large bowl, beat butter until fluffy.

2) Add sugars, salt, and baking soda. Mix until combined.

3) Mix in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla until combined.

4) Mix flower until combined.

5) Stir in coconuts, nuts, and white chocolate.

6) Put on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes, or till just turning golden brown. Cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes.

amani ya juu cafe nairobi kenya

The lovely women of the cafe at Amani Kenya.

IMG_0112

Eggs just look better atop a handmade, fair trade coaster from Africa!

amani ya juu nairobi kenya cafe

The ladies of Amani Kenya working on brunch orders in the cafe.

IMG_0117

Baking is more festive with our hand-batiked cloth napkins from Amani Kenya!

The Betty Apron, amaniafrica.org

The Betty Apron—named for a long-term friend to Amani Liberia, is the perfect pop of color for any kitchen.

 

Shop Amani. Spread Peace.

Be sure to grab your fair trade baking gear at amaniafrica.org!

All of these images (with the exception of the 1st) were taken by Amani Chattanooga Photographer/Event Planner, Molly Gardner.

Meet Lucy

Lucy began stitching placemats with us 18 years ago as a devastated Sudanese refugee. Read her story of loss, reconciliation, and a beautiful future.

“The worst memory that I can remember is the time when we were still in Juba, says Lucy in a UNHCR video several years ago. “The rebels were shelling (using explosives) the town. And, at the moment, if it felt like it cut everything that is around. I’ve seen a woman who was pregnant and this particle just cut her into pieces.” Lucy left Juba, Sudan (now South Sudan) in 1992 and fled to Kenya.” It was so painful to leave my country because I didn’t know where I was going. It was very difficult to get to a place where I don’t know the language. There is nobody who is greeting you. In Sudan, if we met with anybody on the way, they greet you.But…in Kenya it was a bit different.”
Watch Lucy’s poignant interview with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Her story was told to raise awareness about the refugee experience and refugee crises around the world in 2011.
Please be advised that there are some graphic descriptions of the things she has witnessed.
Lucy training traditional Liberian midwives to make a blanket for a newborn baby.
A few years later, Lucy began working at Amani ya Juu as one of the original four refugee women, all struggling to piece together a future. Over the years, as Amani Kenya grew, so did Lucy’s skill—as well as a need to invest in other women. She works in the sewing room at Amani Kenya, where she stitches complicated products—from oven gloves to baby bibs—and encourages new trainees around her.Over the years, she has even traveled to other countries to spread peace and a valuable skill set. In 2012 she traveled back to South Sudan to train war widows in sewing, and in 2013 she visited Liberia to train traditional midwives to sew products for newborn babies.
Jerita and Lucy working in the tie-and-dye shed before their Liberia trip in 2013.
Though she has adjusted to Nairobi life, Lucy dreams of returning to South Sudan. “I miss it,” Lucy says while stitching a children’s elephant toy. “I can pass skills to other women. I want to start something like Amani in South Sudan, but there are some challenges, like the center. Shelter has become a problem for people; everything has become expensive to rent.” In South Sudan, both government and rebels have boycotted peace talks.In a recent interview, Lucy explained that her brand new country has fallen fast and hard. Due to civil conflict, children are malnourished, businesses and hospitals are being looted, and villagers are forced to abandon the homes they have worked so hard to build. “I am so discouraged because of what has happened,” says Lucy.

Lucy knows South Sudan needs peace, and not just on the surface level. The people of South Sudan need physical peace as well as the internal “amani ya juu”—or peace from above in Swahili—which Lucy found at Amani. Lucy feels a sister center in South Sudan is the path to peace for the women of South Sudan. Despite difficulty, Lucy is fiercely loyal to a beautiful future for her country and family. You can see her eyes alight with passion when she paints a mental picture of the future for her family (at 3:28 in this video).

“One day I would like to see you sitting under a biiiiig tree. Just looking around the compound with grandchildren running around. The house that we have built, and I will be sitting there with my husband under a very big tree looking around at my grandchildren.”

Want to support Lucy?
Check out some of the products Lucy helps produce at Amani Kenya!

IMG_8194 IMG_8142-1IMG_2148

The Men of Amani

             Celebrating our Amani Fathers

At Amani ya Juu, we operate largely by women and for women. But there are many wonderful men working behind the scenes. We’d like to introduce you to several men Amani couldn’t run without!

Jackson of Amani Kenya
Jackson came to Amani Kenya in 2008 after learning about the organization through his wife, who was a trainee. He originally worked with Amani Kazi (Swahili for “Peace Work”), a ministry for husbands of Amani women.

Jackson is the Grounds and Workshop Supervisor for Amani Kenya. He oversees and completes jobs like tending the gardens, sharpening instruments, and building canvases for Amani art.

He has a daughter and son, 16 and 8 years old, respectively. Although he works at Amani Kenya full time, Jackson loves coming home each night to chat with his children about their day.

Pete is a father of 3 (soon to be 4) and husband to Joanna, Amani US Warehouse Director in Chattanooga, TN. He can often be spotted in the warehouse lugging around everything from renovation equipment to babies.

Pete’s official title at Amani Chattanooga is Strategic Growth Coordinator. He has overseen the renovation of the warehouse, including the beautiful mural on the outside of the building.

“Amani ya Juu has a focus on women because in tumultuous circumstances where family units are broken, it is usually the women who end up with the children, are less likely to find work, and are targeted as victims,” says Pete.

“I am thankful that God has given me the opportunity to try and be a blessing to the women of Amani. I feel very satisfied knowing that my small part in Amani is ultimately working towards improving the livelihoods of women and spreading the hope for the eternity that we all have in Jesus.”

Bernard has been married 2 years and has a one-year-old son. Bernard is a gardener at Amani Kenya.
He found out about Amani through a friend who worked at Amani Kenya.
“I enjoy playing with my child,” says Bernard. “When he calls me ‘Dad,’ I am so proud. When he grows up, I need to take him to school so he can be a good person and find a job….so he can manage himself.”
Ellis teaches the women at Amani Liberia to sew on Mondays. He also sews many of the most complicated pieces, such as clothing with tricky pleats and zippers.
Ellis is a happily married man. He met his wife years ago when he was training to become a tailor, but he waited to pursue a relationship with her. “I first wanted to make something of myself”. He began a small tailoring business, which he still runs part-time. He and his wife have now been married for six years and share a two-and-a-half year old little girl.
Ellis whole-heartedly believes in equipping women with skills for a brighter future. “We need to get more people to work here and encourage them to learn. We have more sisters in the community, and Amani can help them.”
Ellis isn’t just helping to empower this generation; he also has his sights on the next generation of Liberian women, especially his daughter. “Amani can help me help myself to send my child to school.”

Happy Father’s Day!

To learn more about Amani ya Juu (or shop!) please visit amaniafrica.org.