How Africa Inspired Tiny House Living

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Lindsay Weaver has been an intern with Amani for the past six months. She also lives in a tiny house with her husband Jeremy, who runs a tiny house building business. Recently they were featured on an episode of Tiny House Nation. Lindsay contributes a lot of her desire to go tiny to her experiences while living in Tanzania. Here is her story…..

When I was 14, my father surprised the whole family by telling us that we were going to be traveling to East Africa that summer. I had no idea what to expect other than what I had read in books or seen on tv. What would it be like? What kinds of animals would I see, and would I like the food? For three weeks my family traveled all around Kenya and parts of Northern Tanzania. We bonded with new friends, and took home sights, sounds, and smells that we would never forget. I wrote in my journal that “I vowed to return to these places again one day”.

It would be 15 years before I would return. And this time I would be coming back with my husband and staying for four months. My husband Jeremy and I were in a Masters program that had a required field rotation in Tanzania. We couldn’t have been more excited. Jeremy was itching to return as well because he had lived in Zambia for a year as a student missionary and traveled to many other countries on the continent.

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A little village that sat on the edge of the Ngorogoro crater called Endabash became our new home. We lived with a local family in a little 8×8 room.  About 15 people ranging from 18months to 70 years old lived in this house. It was perfect. More and more we realized we needed less and less. We ate the same thing at every meal, wore the same thing everyday until it was dirty (or smelly), and were surrounded by people who cared about us and we cared about them. Our every need was met and then some.

When we returned to the States, we wanted to make sure that we could carry over this lifestyle of living with less to experience more. Some friends of ours had built a tiny house, were thriving in it and the lifestyle that comes with living in one. We loved how this movement had taken off and many a times had played around with the idea of “going tiny” ourselves. But now we were going to commit to it. Jeremy and his friend Travis took it a step further and decided to start a business building tiny homes called Wind River Tiny Homes. Little did we know what would transpire from stepping out in faith, trusting Gods direction, and going tiny.

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Wind River received an email from a production company in New York that produces a show called Tiny House Nation. They had seen one of Wind River’s previous builds and were curious if they had any upcoming builds they would like to be featured on one of their episodes. They replied back with a yes, and Jeremy mentioned that he had just purchased the trailer for our own tiny house. After a few skype interviews between My husband and I and the production company, we signed the papers and down came the film crew to Chattanooga. We weren’t planning on having a completed house until possibly a year later. We were going to be building it our selves in our spare time, bit by bit. Now we were going to have a completed house, inside and out, in one week! (Here’s the link to our episode: Nomad’s Nestthn7thn63IMG_5360

When going tiny you haven’t much space, so you need to make every inch of it count. Your house should function how you would use it the most. Jeremy and I wanted to be able to cook, relax, and reflect when at home. We wanted our house to be filled with all of our favorite items from our travels, primarily our things from Africa. The interior designers of the show captured these requests perfectly. They created a couch that 1. would fit my 6’6” husband and 2. filled it with pillows made out of our Masai fabrics. It was our dream home. All 276 square feet of it.

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When asked how we like living in a tiny house we say with hardy smiles that we adore it. Our time together is more intentional. I have less clothes which forces me to be more creative with my outfits. Our bills are smaller which means our adventures can be bigger. We have a whole new approach to life that we feel is more simple, yet more responsible. We compost our food scraps, and we have a grey water system so we are careful what cleaning products and soaps we buy. We have also found that the tiny house community is of a kindred spirit. They tend to be people who are genuine, inspirational, and value relationship over possessions.

Many ask us what its like living in a tiny house. The most common questions we get are….

Q: Do you bump into each other and get into each others way a lot?

A: Nope. The layout of our house was designed with a wide kitchen space and the bedroom separate from the bathroom which is separate from the Kitchen.

Q: Your husband is really tall, how in the world can he fit in a tiny house?

A: Our ceilings are 13ft. high. He may be tall but not that tall, mercy.

Q: Are you planning on having kids in that house?

A: Yes, at least one before we decide on going slightly bigger.

Not everyone can go as tiny as we did. But most can go smaller than what they currently have. The idea is to put focus on whats most important to you in life, and to weed out whats not. Where do you store your treasures? Matthew 16:19-21  says “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy,and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Stay tuned to big things happening with all things tiny coming for Wind River Tiny Homes. 

P.S. I want to give a big shout out to Amani photographer Molly Gardner  for coming to our home, and taking pictures of Amani’s amazing items. There truly is something for everyone at Amani, I fell in love with their skirts! (blush, jocelin, dove)

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Meet our volunteer…and her daughter, Amani!

Lana, Amani Box Party Volunteer with her daughter, Amani!

Check out our interview with Lana, who named her daughter “Amani” after a visit to our Kenya center! How did you get connected to us? “I went on a missions awareness trip to Kenya in college. Amani ya Juu in … Continue reading

Meet Monica

Meet the Women: Monica

“I’m grateful to be at Amani…you find sisters and they are able to pray for you, encourage you, and help you with what you are going through…”
Monica, KenyaWatch the video to hear more from Monica!

Meet the Women: Monica

Help us empower women like Monica!

3 ways you can help:
1. Share this video
2. Shop at amaniafrica.org
3. Host a box party
“Consider the blameless, observe the upright; there is a future for the man of peace.”
Psalm 37:37

Meet Margaret

Meet Margaret, who works at Amani Kenya…

Meet the women who make the goods:

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“Most of us, we come here when we are very down. You left your home country because of the war, and you went not knowing where you are going. And God just leads our feet here where we find peace…”
Margaret, Kenya
Watch the video to hear more from Margaret!
Meet the Women: Margaret

You can help empower women like Margaret!

Here’s 3 ways:
1. Share Margaret’s video
2. Shop at amaniafrica.org
3. Donate to our programs

Did you catch Monica’s interview last month?

Click to watch.
Shop Amani. Spread Peace.
“The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.’
 Numbers 6:26

147 Crosses


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Amani ya Juu the 147 Kenyans who lost their lives in a terrorist attack on the Garissa University College campus April 2nd.

We pray for their families and their loss; a loss to them, a loss to Kenya and the world.

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“Jesus’ message of love and reconciliation thrives in a climate where hostility, danger and martyrdom is present.”
Jim Denison

Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, and Toasted Pecan Scones from Revel Pastry Company

Check out this easy recipe from Revel Pastry Company in Chattanooga, TN! 

Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, and Toasted Pecan Scones from Revel Pastry Co

Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, & Toasted Pecan Scones 

Featured: Kitenge Napkin Set and Cow Horn Bowl from amaniafrica.org

This recipe is perfect for Mother’s Day breakfast in bed or a birthday at the office! 

2 cups all purpose flour 1 Tbls. baking powder 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. cinnamon

1/3 cup brown sugar
6 Tbls. cold unsalted butter, cubed 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted 1⁄2 cup heavy cream, plus 2 Tbls.
1 egg

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender, working quickly so as to avoid warming up the butter, until the mixture has the consistency of cornmeal and there are no large chunks of butter visible. Stir in the pecans. In a small bowl, whisk together the 1⁄2 cup heavy cream and egg until well combined. Pour egg and cream mixture over the dry ingredients and stir gently with a rubber spatula until just combined. Gather dough into a ball and knead gently two or three times until it all the crumbs are incorporated.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a disc about 8 inches in diameter and 3⁄4 – 1 inch thick. Cut the disc into 8 even wedges and place on prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and slightly firm to the touch. Allow to cool on the pan 10 minutes before serving.

Maggie-isms

Many visitors to Amani ya Juu in Kenya agree that their favorite experience is a warm, enthusiastic greeting from Maggie, who works in the boutique. Nearly every day for the last 15 years, Maggie has ushered people into the life of Amani with hugs.

Maggie, Amani ya Juu

“What you do, no one else is going to do it. I always say, nobody’s going to replace who you are and what God created you to be. Maybe they can resemble you, but they cannot be exactly the kind of person God created you to be. There is that responsibility and that kind of mission god wants you to carry through.”

Maggie, Amani ya Juu

“(God) was preparing you and making a miracle so that you come and fulfill it. So that He can be glorified. Because He doesn’t change, and He doesn’t disappoint us. He carries us and he cares for us. For He knows what is good for us. He cannot disappoint us. He cannot.”

Maggie, Amani ya Juu

“I always say, every challenge we get to our faith increases because that moment is when we say, ‘Lord I trust in you.'”

Maggie, Amani ya Juu

“What I do I don’t do it to be known in the world. I do it to know, Lord, what I’m doing I do for you. I want other people to come to know who you are.”

Maggie, Amani ya Juu

“We need each other. Because your ideas are different from mine.”

Maggie, Amani ya Juu

“Lord, you know in my heart, I’m proud because you made me to be who I am, but I’m humble at your feet. Because I’m nothing without you, and I know what I’m going to do I want to glorify your name. You know why you’re using me like this.”

Maggie, Amani ya Juu

Shop Maggie’s favorite products online at amaniafrica.org!

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Girl Scouts and Amani ya Juu

Most of us know of the Girl Scouts for their most excellent cookies such as the crowd favorite thin mints, and for their outdoor education programs. But how much do we really know about the Women of Girl Scouts?

On March 12, 1912, in Savannah, Georgia,  a women by the name of Juliette Gordon gathered with 12 young girls for an official girl Scouts meeting. Juliette wanted opportunities for young girls to help them develop holistically. She felt they would best achieve this by taking them out of the house, and bringing them into nature.

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Global Girl Scouting continues the vision by promoting goodwill and friendship among the world’s children, leading them, in turn, to work toward world peace.

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Looks like Girl Scouts and Amani ya Juu have a lot in common!

Recently we interviewed one of our favorite volunteers, Elena Schwedwho works for Girl Scouts, about her volunteering experience with Amani…..

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How did you get connected with Amani ya Juu? Why did you decide to volunteer?  Sarah Sanford whose daughter works with the ladies in Amani; we both work at Girl Scouts and she asked if anyone was interested in helping out.  I responded :) 

What would you say to the women who produce our products at Amani centers in Africa?  Great quality products and the workmanship is phenomenal.

What would you say to others considering volunteering? It’s easy peasy :)

Do you have any tips for volunteers (general stuff party ideas, activities, food, etc)?  I have a wide variety of options.  Neighborhood watch group, parties, work, and I give platelets and take the goods to Blood Source.  I pretty much take them everywhere and am not afraid to ask anyone.  The worse that happens is they say, no.

What is your favorite part about volunteering? I get pretty excited when I am showing off all the beautiful wares.  The fact that everything is handmade is fantastic. No two items are the same :)

How many sales have you done? I have received 2 boxes but have had about 8 sales. 

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(photos from one of Elena’s box parties)

Amani loves our volunteers. There are several different ways you can Volunteer depending on your location and availability.

If you would like to volunteer by throwing a box party check out our FAQs to get yourself more familiar with just what all they entail. Then contact our volunteer coordinator at volunteer@amaniafrica.org

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If you live in the Chattanooga area and would like to help out at our warehouse contact Molly Gardner at shopchatt@amaniafrica.org.

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Or, if you happen to find yourself in Africa, please visit our Contact page to locate the information for the Amani center you wish to visit.

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Meet our Intern: Lindsay

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Name: Lindsay Weaver

School and Degree: Southern Adventist University. Masters of Science in Global Community Development.

Role at Amani: I am the Marketing and Resource Development intern. I work closely with the Marketing Director/Resource Development Coordinator to create blogs, manage social media posts, research promotional opportunities, assisting in various warehouse tasks, and providing support for donor relations.

What made you want to intern with Amani: I have spent time living and working with vulnerable women and children in East Africa. The culture feels like home to me, and it is my personal calling to continue to empower my brothers and sisters overseas. When I moved back to Chattanooga I started following Amani on facebook. I resonated with their mission and their beautiful handcrafted items reminded me of my time spent in Tanzanian markets. When I saw they were in need of an intern I jumped at the opportunity to learn from their development model. I’m very excited to be a part of this international team.

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(planting trees with a student in Bugar, Tanzania)

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(working with a womens sewing group Nyota Njema in Ayalalio, Tanzania)

Favorite Amani Product: West African Safari Quilt

Random Facts: My husband and I live in a “tiny house” that was built by my husbands company Wind River Custom Homes. Its 275 square feet of bliss, decorated with items from our travels, and was featured on the show Tiny House Nation.

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Women in White

In Greek mythology, goddesses were women of great power. They were looked at as strong, unique, and worthy women. Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty. Nike was the goddess of victory. Selene was the goddess of the moon.

This past week, Amanis own Molly Gardener, held a photo shoot titled Women in White. A beautiful group of women, of all shapes and sizes, and of all colors and creeds came together to be celebrated and to celebrate some of the amazing products that Amani women have made.

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Women don’t need Greek mythology to inspire them. We have each other for that! History is rich with all kinds of women who have displayed their courage, creativity, and compassion through out history.

What was it about these made these women that empowered them to do what they did and to stand out in history?

Amelia Earhart was the first female to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and across the North American Continent.

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Rosa Parks was a key player in the civil rights movement. In 1955, while on her way home from work, Rosa refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus. This would lead to a year and a half boycott of busses until the Supreme Court ruled segregated buses as unconstitutional.

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Mother Teresa, who was born in Macedonia, lived most of her life in India. She was a Roman Catholic sister and missionary. He mission in life was to comfort the poorest of poor, and to make sure the dying were not alone.

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Margaret Thatcher was the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century and is the only woman to have held the office.

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Each woman of Amani ya juu is living out a dream. It’s a dream for a better future, a dream where they see their children succeeding, and a dream that’s filled with endless possibilities. These women are doing more than stitching another quilt; they are carefully threading hope. They are doing more than bending metal for another bracelet, they are reshaping their destiny . For with each needle, hammer, stitch and design, they take one step closer to being who they were created to be. Who we were all created to be.

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The only thing that made some women stand out over others in history books, is that they knew their self worth. They didn’t let their gender, age, location, or situation prevent them from doing what their heart desired.

Each day you put on or use and Amani product, feel empowered. Hear Alicia Keys “this girl is on FIRE” playing as you walk out the door.

If you don’t currently own and Amani product, we can help you with that. Check out our product at our online store, and on these fabulous models below!

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(African Sankofa Scarf)

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(Maasai Infinity Scarf)

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(Kitenge Wallet)

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(Bottle Bead Brass Strand)

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(African Sankofa Scarf)

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(African Sankofa Scarf, Kitengela Glass Bead Necklace)

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(Leshao Bracelet)

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