The Mama Liberia Sewing Co-op just had it's first party. I'm not sure why it took us so long, except that gathering all the women together seemed like a volatile event and I shied away from it for a few months. I think, despite a few hiccups, that it went well and they all had a great time. Parties like this are important for building their group identity and increasing their social capital. That, and they deserved it.
Here is Miriama, showing off the chicken stew they served with check rice, followed by pepper soup and fufu. I brought the chickens and soda, and the Co-op members all pitched in for the rest of the food. They had big pots with massive, rake-like spoons. Next time, I'll get to the party earlier so I can watch the cooking.
By the time I made it into the kitchen, the dancing had begun.
This is Joe, celebrating the Co-op by dancing happily in front of the Nana's bar. Thanks to Nana's Lodge for hosting our party!
This is my favorite photo, of the women looking at a slide-show of the photos we're going to use for their Mama Liberia website. As you can see, they like them quite a lot.
Here are Tina, Ma Bendu and Matilda (left to right), the three Team Leaders of the Co-op. They're each responsible for four tenured members and a wider team that is mobilized during big orders. These three wome have been with the Co-op since the beginning!
This is Jebbeh, who is using her sewing money to build her own house.
This is Miriama dancing with her daughter, little Bendu, named after Co-op Team Leader Ma Bendu. Miriama uses her sewing money to invest in her own transport business.
This is Josephine, who opened a bank account to save her sewing money. Josephine is trained as a nurse but hasn't found work in the local health centers. I'm not sure why and this puzzles me, as Liberian is in dire need of rural health workers. I intend to talk to her more about this in the future and see if she can't find a job in the area.
Tina, who organized most of the party cooking and serving, gets ready to serve the food. That's Jenneh next to her. Tina started a crab-selling business with her sewing money and Jenneh is building her own house.
I'm posting this portrait of rather happy looking Ma Bendu wearing lovely surfer boardshorts commissioned by some friends. They look good, right? She never managed to deliver them, probably because she likes them so much herself. You two know who you are, and if you want me to organize a duplicate pair, let me know.
Of course, someone has to do the washing up. Small Bendu and Jenneh volunteered, but didn't want to be left out of the photo taking.
And last but not least, the obligatory children's shot of little Bendu and friends.
To buy Co-op products, visit The African T-Shirt Company. Thanks to all for your support!