Victoria, volunteer at JRS-UK, writes about our Mikono crafts for Christmas

05 December 2013

Our delivery of handmade crafts from Kenya arrived in a big box just 2 weeks ago!

Inside, there were some handmade crucifixes, beaded spiral bracelets, some wooden holy family carvings, animal design key rings…

They come from the Mikono craft gift shop in Nairobi. They are made by refugees who have come to Kenya. The money raised helps support the crafts people and can be the only source of income to feed their family.

For example, Rwandese refugees make the sisal baskets with lid that comes in a set of 5 packed inside the big set. This is a traditional basket back in Rwanda. It is made from natural sisal which is originally white in colour. To get variety in colours, the sisal can be dyed in differently depending on the artist, clients or popular colours on the market. The baskets are crafted in a traditional weaving style from the centre going out in a spiral manner. To hold the sisal together, a needle and a thread are used. The different coloured sisal are added in the course of the weaving at specific points to form a pattern or a shape as the product gets a complete face. The artist stretches the main sisal to form a narrow opening or wide basket cover. The lid is made in the same manner with the size of the basket opening in mind.

We approach parishes within the London area to have a craft stand on Sundays leading up to Christmas or during Lent. A lot of the smaller items are between £2 to £5 and some of the larger items are £15 to £20, so a good range of prices. The benefits of contributing towards refugees’ livelihood actually provides them within an income and for us there are also some excellent stocking fillers! My favourite item is double tie between the colourful beaded key rings and the angel banana leaf tree decorations.

For more information visit our website and see our mini-catalogue to see what’s available and how to order.

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Jesuit Refugee Service UK
The Hurtado Jesuit Centre
2 Chandler Street, London E1W 2QT

020 7488 7310

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