A Trip To Kazuri

Whenever we have visitors to Nairobi I try and take them to a great place called Kazuri Beads.

Where the painting takes place.

Where the painting takes place.

It’s situated in the suburb of Karen, which for all of the wealthy housing out there, has the narrowest roads. It should take about 20 minutes to get there from our place.

Painting the plates before they go into the kilns.

Rolling the beads before they get fired.

We’ve had Marilyn from the US boarding with us for the past month and one place I did want to take her was Kazuri. The story behind this business and the impact it’s making needs to be told and duplicated. While it’s great to have self help groups here, what Kenya really needs is for greater employment to raise the standard of living.

Machinery used to squish out the water.

Machinery used to squish out the water.

At Kazuri there are around 340 women and a few men employed. It was started in 1975 by Regina Newman specifically to help single mothers or those from disadvantaged backgrounds. What they have accomplished is quite amazing.

Pete & Marilyn chatting to the ladies.

Pete & Marilyn chatting to the ladies.

They now produce over five million beads a year that are exported to 20 countries around the world. On top of that they also produce pottery. All made from clay which comes from the Mount Kenya area.

This clay comes from the Mount Kenya region.

This clay comes from the Mount Kenya region.

What I did like is that they have embraced Kenyan flavour and are proud of the heritage here. It’s demonstrated in the brightly painted beads and the figurines on the pottery. Everything they do is done at a level of excellence, even through to the packaging.

Showing how the plates are shaped.

Showing how the plates are shaped.

I’ve never seen their free health clinic but it caters for the staff and their families. It’s a big thing here because healthcare is a huge expense. The owners of Kazuri know that if you look after your staff, your business will thrive.

The cups before they are fired.

The cups before they are fired.

When you visit Kazuri you get a free guided tour through the factory and then can freely shop onsite without being hassled. I think the prices are pretty good, better than if you bought overseas anyway. They do take credit cards as well as US Dollars and British Pounds.

The cups being prepared for their second firing to seal the paintwork.

The cups being prepared for their second firing to seal the paintwork.

There’s a whole lot of outlet stalls at the many malls around Nairobi. I like to go to the factory because it gives visitors a bigger picture of why and how the goods are produced. They get to talk to the ladies and see it being made. You feel the heat of the kilns and watch as artists paint the pottery.

One of the many kilns, with Joseph our guide.

One of the many kilns, with Joseph our guide.

Be assured, if you come to visit us in Nairobi, you’ll probably end up going there.

Plates drying, takes 2-3 weeks.

Plates drying, takes 2-3 weeks.

Check out this video on how a plate is shaped.

save

Advertisements

Safari at the Nairobi National Park

Last Monday was Heroes Day here in Kenya, for us, that meant a day off. We haven’t been to a national park for the entire year. That is shameful considering we have 15 national parks and even more so conservancies in the country.

2 giraffes 3 Because we’re residents and have an ID, we get in ridiculously cheap compared to tourists. Instead of paying $50 to get in, it only cost us $10.

baby zebra We packed snacks and hit the road by 7am. I love the traffic on public holidays and Sundays, where it’s pretty minimal. What takes us 15 minutes on a Sunday can take 2 hours during the week. Of course, we had to do the mandatory stopoff for gas. The last thing you want is to run out of petrol in the middle of nowhere.

billed bird Getting into a national park is no easy feat. First, you have to go through your car getting checked by security and they ask you where you are going (as if they’ll remember). Then you have to get a safari card from one office, get in your car, wait in line to go through the main gate and sign in your car. If there are lots of people it can take a good 30 minutes to get through.

in grass Once we were paid in, checked out and signed in, we were off. To be honest, I was quite sceptical about what animals we would see. We’ve been to some amazing parks in Kenya. Amboseli has a huge amount of elephants while Nakuru has a lot of water life and closeups of a variety of animals. We’ve even cycled through Hell’s Gate. We are so lucky to live in a country where you can see some amazing wildlife.

weird 2 The last time I went to the Nairobi National Park I didn’t see much as I was stuck in the back of a vehicle, so anything I saw had to be better than this. I had to say, I was super impressed by what I saw.

Yes, these are hippos.

Yes, these are hippos.

Sure there were plenty of buffaloes, wildebeest, zebras and gazelles. However, to see at least 8 giraffes and 2 massive rhinos. We didn’t see a lion but they haven’t seen them there for ages. We figured that the two huge humps in the lake were hippos. Hippos can stay under water for 30 minutes, but we didn’t hang around that long.

angry baboonI didn’t know there was a lake inside the park, but there is. There’s even some places you can go (for a fee) with an armed guard on a walk through a certain area. With baboons and the such around, you need a guard. We didn’t do it because we hate paying for a ‘service’ when they’re already getting paid.

Where we got stuck

Where we got stuck

Going around the lake was a highlight of my day. Not because of the amazing birdlife that is there but because we got stuck. There are stacks of people travelling around the park and we had just passed a Land Rover full of white people who we found out were Kenyans (they sounded British), they called themselves ‘Vanilla Gorillas’ and were well into their 70’s. They told us there was a small muddy part just ahead but we should be able to get through it. We got to the mudhole and I remember saying “Go around it” when Pete suddenly went straight through the middle of it and within seconds we were stuck like nobody’s business.

Our rescuers

Our rescuers

We weren’t going anywhere.

We weren't going anywhere

We weren’t going anywhere

Pete immediately jumped out to give it a push – it only got stuck further. Thankfully the white Kenyans returned and proceeded to pull us out. We had a tow rope in our car and when Pete got it out he realised that my gumboots were sitting there which he could’ve used.

pete washingMuddy footed, he returned to the car and we decided not to continue on that route. Instead, it was time for food.

It was great that we took picnic food with us because there’s the odd place you can take a break from sitting in your car and have a snack. After a couple of hours there’s nothing like a cup of tea and carrot cake (thanks Liz!).

bird on sign We’ve had a bit of rain lately, which is abnormal for this time of year. Thankfully, the road/dirt tracks were in good condition. It did belt down in the early afternoon which was handy to get the acquired mud off the car.

7 hours later we returned to the main gate. There, you have to sign your car out before you’re allowed to leave. 30 minutes later we were home, Pete a bit wet, but all of us very happy that we took the day out to enjoy the amazing world we get to live in. blue bird

Even if you don’t have wild animals living on your back doorstep, can I encourage you to get out there and get in tune with nature. Go for a walk, paddle in a lake, watch the wildlife and breathe in fresh air!!

A Day With Gary

Every September in Nairobi the International Trade Fair (otherwise known as ‘the show’) is held at the showgrounds. During the rest of the year it looks like an abandoned village but for one week, the place comes alive.

Some of the crowd

Some of the crowd

Nothing spoils you more than living in Australia and going to the East Show, it is fantastic and nothing compares with it. But in reality, the Trade Fair is quite amazing for Kenya standards.

Olwen, Pete, me and Gary

Olwen, Pete, me and Gary

Our routine for the past two times we’ve gone, is to meet up with our Canadian friend Gary. Gary is awesomely funny. He and his beautiful wife Cynthia moved here for a couple of years. She works for IBM, Gary plays golf (and other fun retiree stuff). Cynthia is a wonderful breath of fresh air, hanging around with her revitalises you.

Gary and his new friend

Gary and his new friend

They have a car and driver as part of their package to be here so we’ve got the show down to a good habit. We drive to the local mall and leave our car there. Gary picks us up and his driver takes us to the showground then drops us back off afterwards. Next year we’ll have to park at the show as they would’ve returned to Canada.

This year was different in that we went on a Friday. Wednesdays are out because the President of Kenya comes and you can’t get around the place.

Most of the team

Most of the team

We haven’t had very much rain this year, but it decided to bucket down during the night. Hence, we bought an umbrella, which was used for all of 30 seconds before it dried up in the morning.

Looking at one of the vege patches

Looking at one of the vege patches

The show is always jam packed with school kids, farmers, hoards of animals on display, horse jumping, expo sites and eateries. There’s judging of the best animals and businesses spruiking their wares. It’s never a dull moment and if you want somewhere quiet, you won’t find it here.

It’s quite good value, only $3 to get in and if you really want to splurge, around 20 cents for a ride. Last year we found this food hall where you can get ¼ chicken, chips and a coke for $4.

Pete especially likes the show because he gets to see everything he needs for farming in one place. Nairobi is tricky to get around because of the congested traffic so if you get two things done in one day, you’re winning.

All year Gary has been onto Liz about going on a camel ride. She had psyched herself up for it and she was glad it had been raining because who wants to ride on a wet camel?

What we saw a lot of this year were people dressed up in crazy character outfits. Gary was in his element.

Gary makes friends everywhere he goes

Gary makes friends everywhere he goes

We also had Olwen, one of Pete’s work colleagues join us for a few hours. He’s a great young man who is working his first agricultural job since graduating from uni. There was no way on God’s green earth he was getting onto a camel and was also glad it had been raining.

Olwen

Olwen

One of the weirdest things I saw on our way out was a Witness Protection Agency tent. Not your average expo site and I didn’t go in because I thought they couldn’t say much to protect whoever was in hiding. Hopefully we’ll never need their services!

Witness protection at your service

Witness protection at your service

Overall it was a great day and although we won’t get to do it with Gary again, it has built some memorable moments.

Yep, it was a long day!

Yep, it was a long day!