NARETOI WOMEN'S INITIATIVE
Naretoi Women's Initiative (NAWI) is a registered beading cooperative of 18 women and 2 men in a small Maasai community near Namanga, Kenya. The idea for NAWI originated with these women and other community members who have organized and asked for our support. The women in this remote community do not have access to places where they can sell their jewelry, and jewelry sales from this project make a notable contribution toward their financial security and independence.
The sale of even a single piece can go a long way in Kenya. A woman can support a family of 6 children for a week on $10. All the money made from the sale of these pieces goes into a collective account and the Maasai women hold meetings to decide when and how to spend the proceeds. Sometimes they invest in cattle, other times, if hardships like droughts arise, they may choose to spend their earnings on basic necessities.
Each piece of jewelry is a handmade, one-of-a-kind masterpiece made by the talented women in the beading group. All of the jewelry is made in a traditional style using glass beads, recycled plastic bags and bottles.
Mateu is one of the talented founders of the NAWI cooperative. She is a respected elder and a mother of nine children. She is the first of her husband's four wives. Although her husband has a lot of cattle, when it comes to caring for the basics of feeding and providing for her children and grandchildren, Mateu is basically on her own. She is a sweet, shy woman who cares deeply for her children and does anything she can for them.