The Nyota Farsamo interior design showcasing was held on Friday 28th at the village market courtesy the International Trade Fair (ITC) .Nyota means “star” in Swahili and “Farsamo” means “artisan” in Somali – this Combination of Swahili & Somali represents the mixed cultures of the collective. These amazing women hope to share the beauty & story of their culture through their handwork as they improve their challenging situation in Dadaab. As we know, Dadaab is one of the largest refugee camps located in North-East Kenya with a population of over 200,000 in 2018. The camp was established following the 1991 civil war in Somalia & is now nearly 30 years old. Nyota Farsamo was founded in 2018 and is a Somali-Kenyan artisan collective from Dadaab consisting of 48 women. Their collection includes plaited & coiled baskets, floor mats & striking tie and dye textiles.
The breakfast event saw a number of people from different walks of life stream in to view the appealing and colorful array of basket, floor mats and batik display set up in the heart of the village market. Smiles were flashed, photographs were taken, conversations were shared and most importantly the women’s items were bought, leaving the venue and heading to different people’s homes and offices to beautify them.
Only one of the women could understand Swahili, Fatuma, and she translated for the rest of her colleagues who spoke Somali. The women were amazing, social and happy especially seeing their project take off. It such a pleasure meeting and interacting with them thinking of the strength and resilience they depict. Glory was what you saw in them and their work and not the difficulties they’ve encountered from their countries or in the camp.
Pictured Fatuma (right) and Muthoni Kirumba (left)
Katie Schlinder, project manager, Refugee Employment & Skills Initiative (RESI) had this to say: “RESI is implemented by the International Trade Centre at the Dadaab and Kakuma camps and also in partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council, NRC.
“There was already pre-existing talent at the camp. They just needed support in business development & market linkages and so RESI came in to fill that gap. Support was given to five individual artisan groups that existed, then the collective was birthed i.e. Nyota Farsamo. A business developer and other experts specifically (Goodie Odhiambo, Christine Gitau and Maryjo Cartier) were bought on board to help the women to fine tune the products to meet the quality standards so as to be able to match competition in areas like Nairobi.
“Some two men are involved in the project but mainly do woodwork. Most of the pieces however are created by the 48 women involved.
“The products are stocked at Goodies African interiors and gifts at Viking House and one can also order online from instagram, where we do direct individual sales, but now thought is really being put forward into branching out into wholesale markets.
“The collections were named with varying beautiful color arrays; from the indigo blue collection, the natural collection to the Somali rugs.”
Her parting shot was that what the women were doing was incredibly groundbreaking and helped in breaking stereotypes especially for people who have never visited Dadaab camp to fully grasp its concept. Some of the People have been there for almost 30 years and it’s a very isolated area. So welcome to joining this worthy initiative, Nyota Farsamo. Your support will be appreciated.
Smile, happy looks good on you 🙂
Maryjo Cartier (right) & Muthoni Kirumba (Left)
Seriously learning this basket making activity – the amazing women were teaching me a few tips!