Sasa Designs by the Deaf from Kenya

Artisan Sasa Designs by the Deaf

In Kenya, the estimated unemployment rate among the deaf community is a whopping 85%. Sasa Designs by the Deaf launched in 2011 with the goal of providing sustainable, fair-wage employment, believing a deaf woman holds her future in her hands. Most of Kenya's deaf population lost their hearing in early childhood due to a lack of access to medical care during high fevers. Growing up deaf, they face a lifetime of discrimination, even from their own families.

Sasa Designs for the Deaf sought to change that, here and now. "Sasa" is the Swahili word for "now," which reflects the social enterprise's focus on showing their deaf artisans the potential they have today, not what defined them in the past.

Susan Jepkemoi had been unemployed her whole life, and struggled as a 24 year-old single mother of a toddler son; Sasa gave her new skills and a sense of pride. Annastasia Nekesa was a middle child in a large family when she left to marry, but returned home after miscarriages and mistreatment by her husband. Now she has charted her own course to independence. Virginia Wanjiku's father was jobless and couldn't afford to keep her in school; now she can save for her three daughters' educations. Dorothy Aoko was rejected and isolated for most of her 30 years, yet now she feels accepted as part of the Sasa community.

Sasa trains women with the goal of employment but also empowerment. By sourcing many components locally -- everything from recycled glass beads, handcrafted brass chains, and bone and horn details -- Sasa artisans see how their creations directly impact the local economy, not just their own families.

Each exquisite, handcrafted item of jewelry from Sasa Designs by the Deaf comes with a card letting you know which artisan made it, including her bio and photo. Think of these women with pride and know that you are helping them feel proud of themselves, too, now and into bright futures.

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