FAIL FORWARD WITH FABRICS
Fabrics is our middle name. Well, sort of. We are Fabulous African Fabrics, founded in 1999 to make and sell items made from imported African textiles, raising funds for widows and orphans in Kenya. We were crafters and artists enthusiastic about African textiles and how we could make beautiful items out of them. Proceeds went to a Kenyan Orphanage, The Good Samaritan Children’s Home. By 2010 the passion for fabrics was ripping our foundation apart.
Selling at art markets, bazaars, and craft fairs was no longer viable. After the Twin Towers came down, exotic textiles became suspect. Crowds looked, but no one bought. Enter the recession when fancy linens, jewelry and clothing were luxuries for the cash-strapped middle class. Textile prices rose. How many times did we hear “Your work is beautiful,” as people hurried past our booth, afraid to stop where they might feel the temptation to buy?
Our work was so closely tied to the street fairs--our interest in surface design, and the crowds of people whom we met and talked to about our mission--it was hard to give up. Earnings fell and fell until 2013 when our sales broke even with our costs. I learned from reading Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits (Bray) that no fundraiser should cost more than 7% of the profits. That was it. This summer we called it quits. FAF still sells hats and silk scarves when contacted, and participates in a large craft fair in Spokane each year; but our long days at the craft fair and sewing machine are done. No matter how much you love an idea, it pays to be flexible.
In 2010 we joined GlobalGiving, filling the hole in our budget. We enjoy exchanges with other non-profits and NGO’s on line, and being a part of a worldwide group through membership in GlobalGiving UK. The boys and girls of the Good Samaritan Children’s Home in Nairobi, Kenya remain in good hands.
Over the past fifteen years, FAF has sent $103,000 to Women Fighting AIDS in Kenya, and the Good Samaritan Children’s Home. In 2010 the FAF Board voted to concentrate on supporting the orphanage because we saw the greatest need with these children. Kris Wetah of the Good Samaritan Home has written, “Through your support, GSCH has managed to make a positive impact in the lives of thousands of orphans and vulnerable children in the Mathare Slums and beyond. Together we have achieved.”
Nineteen thousand dollars of the $103,000 has been raised through your generous donations to the orphanage since we became a part of Global Giving four years ago. Fifteen thousand dollars of that has gone to high school tution. You have sent 150 teens to high school. Picture a crowd of healthy kids waving and yelling “Thank you!”
Kris asks us not to sit still, the need goes on. Consider these teens who have recently be accepted into the orphanage: Benson, age 17 whose grades have gone up since joining the home, or Denis age 14, who has been raised by his aged grandmother who does not know where the parents have gone, or Francis who was brought in by her mother who is “completely unable to support any aspect of her wellbeing.” You have contributed to a quality home that saves lives and continues to open its arms to deserving children. May our partnership continue to grow and flourish.
Ninety pairs of feet will be dancing, running, hopping, skipping off to a new term of school because you donated to this cause. September 2 begins the last term of school in the Kenyan school year. After a short vacation, our students are ready to go back to classes. On August 1, Fabulous African Fabrics wired $900 in funds collected through Global Giving to buy school shoes for the children at the Good Samaritan Children’s Home.
As Manager Kris Wetah wrote us, “Friday there will be some shopping for shoes!” Imagine the happy faces.
Children who have been admitted to the orphanage within the year have led hard lives, losing parents, being beaten, never having been in school. Here are some stories Kris sent to us.
Isaack and Mainge, 9 years old siblings from Magumu Nyandarua, brought in by their aging grandmother. She has no clue on the whereabout of their parents.
Emmanuel, 10 years. He was brought in with a hand broken by other street children from Eastleign. On entrance to the orphanage the hand was treated and put in a cast, well on his way to being healed. Now he is enrolled in school for the first time in his life. As Kris wrote, “He had never seen the door to it.”
Ruth fled from her family for being sexually abused by her stepfather. She has been living with her brother Isaack on the streets of Mathare (where the orphanage is located). Hope International enrolled her in school. But they have no place for her to stay. Good Samaritan provided accommodation, bus fare and personal effects. She is now in form 2 at school with the orphanage adding to her school fees.
FAF wishes good luck and good learning to these and other children who will be very proud to go to school in their shiny new shoes.