In Her Words: A Letter from Jane Karimi to Ibu Allies

In Her Words: A Letter from Jane Karimi to Ibu Allies

Dear Ibu Allies,

In 2021, Susan Hull Walker traveled to Kenya with a small group of friends. They stayed at a nearby lodge and made plans to come to the headquarters of SATUBO—a cooperative formed by the women of the Samburu, Turkana, Borana tribes—to meet our artisans and learn more about our work. We shared with her our story of overcoming the tribal warring of our husbands, finding peace through our beading traditions, and working together to empower women financially to meet our daily needs. Susan listened and wanted to know more.

 SATUBO began in 2010, and now 60 women bead together. Our husbands did not want us to gather with our “enemies,” yet the women felt they could not continue to bear the unrest and saw an opportunity for change. The result was not only financial freedom for our talented artisans—we successfully brought peace to our communities living in the area, we are able to feed our families, and provide schooling for our children. Our group first met together in the shade of a tree, and now we have bought land collectively and built a workshop as well as a school, and also are able to purchase property for ourselves individually—an accomplishment unheard of for women here. 

Our biggest struggle is a lack of steady orders for our beadwork. When Susan visited for the first time, she admired our work and purchased our collar necklaces to take back to Ibu, and through Marisa we have continued to receive orders. When Susan returned a year later, she brought more allies to meet us and hear our story. This helped us spread the word about the talented craftswomen living in marginalized communities. We are grateful for this support and ask your help to continue to share our story.

The women of SATUBO have overcome many challenges with the help of a tiny bead. We are glad to be able to share these traditions with you, and for you to know that your purchases make a powerful impact on our communities. Thank you for honoring our work and our dreams for a brighter future.

All the best, 
Jane Karimi 
Leader, Satubo Women's Group