130. Beth Nyambura

An in­ter­view with an ar­ti­san: Beth Nyambura

The Hand of Fashion - - CONTENTS - In­ter­view: Chloé Mukai Pho­tos: Louis Nderi

Beth Nyambura, sin­gle-mum of two and bead ar­ti­san work­ing with the Eth­i­cal Fash­ion Ini­tia­tive in Nairobi.

Chloé Mukai: Can you tell us a bit about your­self? Beth Nyambura: I am Beth Nyambura, 24 years-old and I have two chil­dren: one is 6 and the other is 1. How long have you been work­ing here? Two years. Be­fore that what were you do­ing? Noth­ing! Just do­ing ca­sual work: wash­ing clothes for oth­ers, do­ing laun­dry (note: almost all the in­hab­i­tants of Koro­go­cho slum work in the in­for­mal sec­tor, do­ing ca­sual work like laun­dry, sell­ing food pro­duce in the street). How did you find this job? I came ask­ing for a job and I was ab­sorbed. Lucy, the su­per­vi­sor, trained me. So are you from the area? How did you know that there was work here? Yes, I come from Koro­go­cho (one of the largest slums in Kenya) and I used to visit this work­shop and I saw women work­ing, so I asked for a job. Be­fore start­ing this job did you al­ready have skills in bead­work? No I didn’t… I was trained by another ar­ti­san called Lucy. I am not per­fect yet, I am still train­ing on the job. How do you find this job? It’s very good: it helps me pay school fees for my chil­dren and to feed them well. Weren’t they in school be­fore? They were, but to very poor schools. Now they go to a bet­ter school that I can af­ford. Tell us about the work with the other ladies? It is good and boosts my moral. Work­ing to­gether makes me con­fi­dent. I can be cor­rected if I am wrong. One of the chal­lenges is that some­times, I can­not keep up with the pace of oth­ers. When there is a big or­der, I can make fewer pieces com­pared to the oth­ers, which means my skills are still not per­fect. But I am im­prov­ing. What is the best thing about your job? Now that I am work­ing, I am not idle and I don’t stay at home. I come here and keep my­self busy. What is your dream? Even a crazy one. My first dream is to get my skills per­fected and to be able to train oth­ers. Then, with the money I would save I would like to open my own business. I want to take care of my chil­dren and for them to go beyond the level I reached and get bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion. Can we talk a lit­tle bit about you? What artists or peo­ple in gen­eral do you like? Jen­nifer Lopez. Her mu­sic is very beau­ti­ful and sen­ti­men­tal to me. I also like Lupita Ny­ong’o (Kenyan ac­tress, ‘12 Years A Slave’, ‘Star Wars Episode VII’). Be­cause she has not lost her iden­tity, she re­spects her cul­ture de­spite not liv­ing in Kenya. How about in fash­ion: do you have a favourite de­signer? I do not know the name, but I like this Nige­rian de­signer. What is your favourite food? Ugali (East­ern African corn­meal-based dish), rice, mukimo (tra­di­tional food mix­ture of maize, beans and veg­gies). Do you like liv­ing in Nairobi?

For now yes, be­cause I need the money I earn here, but once I have made enough money I would like to move be­cause Nairobi is stuffed. I will move to the ru­ral area, like Mu­rang’a or another area out­side of Nairobi. Mu­rang’a is about a five hour drive. What brings the most hap­pi­ness in your day? My work. But I also like to spend time with my friends and to see other parts of Kenya.

Above and op­po­site (top): Since join­ing the Ini­tia­tive two years ago, Beth has con­sid­er­ably im­proved her bead­work skills and now works on or­ders for clients such as sass & bide in Aus­tralia (as seen here). The LOVE MORE pouch, made in Kenya for sass & bide. Op­po­site (be­low): Work­ing at Bega Kwa Bega trans­lates into much needed in­come, but also a dig­ni­fied work en­vi­ron­ment where she can in­ter­act with fel­low women ar­ti­sans from Koro­go­cho.

“(Work) boosts my moral. Work­ing to­gether makes me con­fi­dent. I can be cor­rected if I am wrong.”

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