From my previous blog titled My Travel Loot #1| Project Ploughshare Women’s Pottery:
I love to travel and experience new places and cultures. Another thing I love to do is take home a piece of of that culture’s art. I don’t mean cheesy refrigerator magnets, or touristy souvenirs that are made in China, with the place’s name prominently displayed. If I were to show you my collection of travel artifacts, I would probably have to explain their origin to you.
When I can visit a program that helps disadvantaged people make a living by making that art, sign me up! I highly recommend that when you travel to other countries, that you check if there is a handicraft center that provides jobs to the disadvantaged. You just have to make sure the center has a good reputation and does not exploit it’s workers.
This time around we visit Bombolulu Workshop (http://www.apdkbombolulu.org/), which is located east of Mombasa Island on the mainland.
According to their website, “Bombolulu…works with more than 100 people with different abilities, men and women artisans to help them overcome their physical limitations and empower them economically and socially to become fully integrated members of their communities…”
While many of the artisans both live and work on the compound, some live with their families outside and commute to the workshop. They also provide day care facilities and a school. Everyone there was very friendly and eager so show off their work. I highly recommend visiting if you make it to Mombasa.
1: One of the friendly resident artisans eagerly shows us some of his wares, some hand-carved earrings made from coconut shell and animal bone. He also showed us some of raw materials, and other projects in various states of completion. This included necklaces, pendants, and spoons.
2: I purchased these earrings directly from him for my lady. The pair on the left are animal bone, and the pair on the right are coconut shell. Each pair was 400ksh, or about $4 US. It was a fair price, so I didn’t even try to haggle with him.
3: The same artisan works in a section of the compound dedicated to woodworking and carving. You can see raw materials, tools, and projects on display.
4: This building was dedicated to jewelry making, with each station responsible for making specific components. The resident workers have a wide range disabilities and chronic illnesses.
5: The textile and leather working building. There wasn’t much activity in this section when we visited, besides a man building custom leather folios for a nearby restaurant. Besides making souvenir-type handicrafts, they also make custom items for local businesses.
6: The wheelchair workshop, my absolute favorite part of the facility. Here they make custom wheelchairs for disabled people in Mombassa. On the opposite wall is a peg board with photos and profiles of disabled people in need of these critical freedom-granting devices.
7: The result of several attempts at a good welding shot.
8: The finished product: some hand-crank wheelchairs. They also create other styles of wheelchairs, including custom models for people with specific disabilities.
9: Also on the grounds there are several traditional huts built in the styles various tribes throughout Kenya. A guide takes you to each hut and explains their cultural significance.
10: The showroom building where you can purchase the locally made handicrafts. Everything is fairly priced, and clearly marked.
11: I purchased this beer bottle koozy from the main shop. I already have so much African art, I decided to buy something functional. It’s made entirely of leather, which provides great insulation for your beer. I paid 1200ksh, or about $12 US.
Thanks for dropping by! I hope that you enjoyed my travel photos and commentary, and will return for more travel content in the future.