Meet the maker - Christine Makenga

Unity is strength

Christine Makenga lives in the coastal region of Kenya. She is 41 years old, married and has 4 children, ages ranging between 25 and 8 years old. She combines farming with basket weaving, a skill she learned from her grandmother at age 15. 

Her life’s motto is, “those with the heart and willingness to learn, grasp quickly when taught”. At the start of her marriage, she was financially fully dependant of her husband, and employment opportunities were scarce. With the financial struggles of her family, she decided to take up basket weaving and earn an income of her own. She joined a group of women, with a similar mindset, the Mwamko basket weaving group. In 2005 the group had 23 members, all mothers, motivated to earn their own income and to educate their children. Together they could negotiate better prices for their baskets. Soon they also started a saving scheme and could give small loans to group members. The difficulties the group had, working with middlemen and irregular market days, were overcome when they started working with Hadithi crafts. Regular market days, negotiated prices, assistance in organisational issues of the group and capacity building meant a steady increase in the groups’ production capacity and their income. 

As a Swahili saying goes, “A finger cannot kill a tick”, meaning coming together with like-minded individuals can benefit everyone. Unity is strength!

Christine’s typical day starts at 5.30 am. After making baskets in the morning she goes to the farm, where she planted maize, beans and vegetables. In the evening she takes care of the household. She likes making the big baskets as it is well-paid. Her favourite colours are black, white and brown.

Her aspirations for her children are to benefit as much as possible from their education, to get well-paid jobs and better lives, than what she experienced growing up.

Knitting as a healing activity for the mind
“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.”~ Elizabeth Zimmermann~