Yesterday, Rebecca Lolosoli came to NMWA’s Museum Shop for the International Women Artisans Initiative Trunk Show and Sale and discussed her important work. Rebecca was recognized by Vital Voices at the 2010 Global Leaderships Awards on March 10th for her creation of the Umoja Uaso Women’s Organization in Kenya.
Women in the Umoja Organization support themselves through making and selling beaded jewelry and crafts, enabling them to leave behind lives of poverty. Rebecca said that young girls are taught how to create jewelry by their mothers. Traditionally, seeds were used for the beads but now they use beautiful beads purchased in Nairobi. Rebecca used to make her own jewelry but due to her leadership responsibilities rarely has the time to create her own work.
Rebecca explained that the Umoja Organization assists women throughout the Samburu District in Kenya in the sales process, providing advice about where to buy materials and market their jewelry. The Umoja Organization has grown significantly over the past nineteen years and now Vital Voices has given them the opportunity to sell their crafts internationally. Rebecca encourages women to establish groups of craftsman in their own communities as a support system. The Umoja Organization enables women with a skill to support their family. “It’s good for them,” she says. “It changes their lives.”
About the Author-Breezy Diether is currently an education intern at NMWA.