Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tying and Dying

I thought it would be a good time to write a Ben post and let those of you who are anxiously waiting know how my work with the women’s tie-dye (henceforth known as tie and dye) group is going.  As you might have expected from a genius of my caliber, we have had a 400% increase in our assets since we started about 8 months ago.  After simply helping a few women last fall figure out how much money they actually make from doing tie and dye work they came to me and wanted to form a Kafo (group).  We sat down and figured out how many women wanted to be in the group, figured out how much our first job would cost and split that up evenly and got started.  Our first three jobs just involved dying fabrics and solid colors and selling those.  Our last job was our first batik job.  The best I can and will explain batik is that you go through a slow process involving a lot of dye and wax and make up designs and multi-colored fabrics.  Those are the fancy ones and cost a little more. 

finished batik

Last week three of the women, as well as Kate and myself, went over to a neighboring village to figure out this batik.  Two of the women had previously had training so knew what they were doing.  Nya Nya, Kate and I didn’t really know so we did a good deal of “helping”/watching.  The village we went to is home of the district training center (fancy name for phone charging compound) and they have a really good community development coordinator named Seedey Sey.  Seedey and a few women from that village really know what they were doing in terms of making batik so they definitely took the lead.  It was a pretty productive two days for sure.  We got all the work done and gained a good deal of knowledge as to what we can do with our little Kafoo.  I said Seedey is really good for one main reason at this point.  I talked to him when we were there less than a week ago about registering our Kafo.  He explained to me the details and the process and said he would help do everything.  Generally speaking here in Gambia, that would mean he may help eventually if at all. 

Within a week, and without any effort on my part he scheduled a meeting to come out to our village and go through the entire constitution writing process to get things going.  So we had that meeting, which took a good few hours.  We worked out the goals of the Kafo, the rules of the Kafo and the women have been assigned to discuss who they want to make the officers.  In the mean time we are finishing up those batik fabrics and they should be sold off here in a few days.  The biggest hassle of this project is collecting money.  Everyone here buys everything on “credit”…I will take it now and you can hunt me down for the money later.  It’s like America.  I think I have somewhat become the enforcer, which means I am constantly reminding people to pay.  The women take the request well and sometimes reminding them actually gets a few to pay here or there.  Once we have a little more cash we will move on to the next job and make some more fabrics.  Soon enough we will be registered, have a bank account, have cash to expand the work we do and be eligible for women in the group to get trained through the community training center in other things, including business management.    That’s pretty much it.  Hopefully a few pictures of batik fabric accompany this blog and more importantly.  I have some fabric for sale…batik is 800D, plain is 600D, everything comes as a 5 meter piece.  We accept no major credit cards or checks and shipping is not included (no guarantee item will successfully ship).  Email with orders and allow up to two weeks for reply. Thanks.

dyeing the fabric

working under the mango tree

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