Jan 16, 2010

News from Njabini!

As you know, one of the activities we are involved in is funding Sammy Bakari and the Njabini woolspinning workshop on the Kinangop Plateau of Kenya.

To read why the Kinangop plateau is so important for the conservation of the disgraced Sharpe’s Longclaw bird, you can read this previous post of mine. And to understand how the Njabini woolspinning workshop is helping save the Longclaw, while as well creating workplaces and lovely eco-friendly wool products, please see here.

In November, Sammy Bakari sent me this report on the activities that he and the Njabini workshop have been carrying out in the last three months. Here is Sammy’s report – sorry for posting it so late... but life has been so hectic for me in the last months (you all know why, uh?).

By the way, happy new year's greetings from your friend - Dr Liv!



The Njabini Wool Spinning and Weaving Workshop is one of the activities carried out by the Friends of Kinangop Plateau to reduce pressure on the Kinangop Highland Grasslands, one Kenya’s most important bird areas, which is the stronghold of the Sharpe’s Longclaw, a bird highly threatened by human activities. By buying wool from local producers, our workshop encourages livestock farming that is favorable to the conservation of the grasslands, the only place where Sharpe’s Longclaw can live.

In previous years, our workshop has been mainly selling unprocessed yarns to other workshops in major towns. However, we realize that selling woven products instead of raw yarns could fetch more money and therefore help expand the size of our activity. However, product quality and marketing have been a big problem for us, and have severely limited our work. Fortunately, thanks to the support that we are receiving from you, these problems are being addressed. When we met Luca in 2007, the quality of our products was low, but thanks to the support that Luca, Charlie, David, the 10,000 birds blog and all the other donors in Italy are giving to us, we have been encouraged and we are improving at all levels!

Since September 2009, we are also very much privileged to have a renowned weaver, Janice Knausberger, who is working with us and doing all that she can to help us improve our quality through training of new tricks and designs. As a result of Janice’s training we have started washing our wool before carding which is really helping improve the fineness of the yarn, which is the major factor of good quality product. We have also learned a new edge finishing technique, which is not practiced by any other weavers in Kenya, making our products unique.

Janice has also donated a drum carder to the workshop. With that, we are now producing a stock of high quality products ready to be shown to potential customers.

During these three months, we have been able to buy wool from farmers who have big flocks of sheep and have left aside pasture for the sheep which are as well the habitat for the Sharpe’s Longclaw and other grassland birds. Due to increased motivation and people knowing about the workshop, we have also recorded the highest sales of products for several months.

In these three months, we took part in two exhibitions, the 8th AGOA exhibition at the Kenya International Conference Center, and the Nature Fair organized by Nature Kenya. We also took part in the Farmers’ Field Day organized by the Ministries of Agriculture and Livestock in the Njabini Agricultural Training Center.

I can’t fail to thank all those who have helped in cash and kind. Lots of thanks go to the 10000 birds blog team, and to the Italian donors that have been brought in by Luca. Mr. David Fox has been very generous to us and we really pass our gratitude to him. Janice Knausberger has taken her time to come to our the workshop and teach us the new tricks that are working magic to our products.

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