Sustainably Chic

A Scarf Project Inspiring Young Women Refugees

FashionNatalie Kay

Heshima Kenya | The Maisha Collective

A non-profit out of Nairobi, Kenya, Heshima Kenya was the first organization created to protect refugee children and youth, especially young women 13-23 years old from  Somalia, Ethiopia, DR Congo, Sudan, Rwanda, and Burundi. Providing the necessary training and daily needs of the refugee women, the organization aims to empower them to live healthy lives and offer continued long-term support so they may be able to foster sustainable communities of their own. Heshima Kenya was established in 2008 because of the overwhelming amount of refugees displaced in Kenya {roughly 600,000}. There were not enough programs to enrich the lives of the adolescent refugees in the Nairobi area, so founders Anne Sweeney and Talyn Good took charge to create a safe community for these women. Click below to learn more about their scarf program {I'm wearing one of their beautifully hand-dyed scarves above}, The Maisha Collective.

Fun Fact: Heshima is Swahili for 'dignity', 'honor' or 'respect' & Maisha is Swahili for 'life'.

Through the process of creating and producing handmade scarves, The Maisha Collective teaches young refugee women the important skills of leadership and business. The program promotes confidence, and helps prepare them for a bright future ahead. Currently, there are 54 full-time artisans with 70% of them having absolutely no schooling before entering the program. Around 60% have been victims of sexual and gender-based violence, and the average age of the girls is 16. The Maisha girls are provided with food, education, medical care and anything they need to bring sustaining and lasting solutions for their lives outside of the program. What is so amazing, 70% of all graduates are now economically independent!

I absolutely love the art of dyeing textiles, and these scarves are gorgeous! They use an African dyeing technique called resist dyeing. Patterns are created by preventing the dye from reaching every piece of the fabric - the result is pretty awesome. The most heart warming of it all is the signed card you receive with each scarf. It is the little things like this card {pictured below} which remind me of why I changed my approach to fashion and started Sustainably Chic. 

Wondering where to buy one of these lovely scarves? Shop their Etsy page - here - 100% of proceeds will go directly to the women and girls in the Heshima Kenya's safehouse.