Transforming Lives in Tanzania: Why We Love Neema Crafts
Neema Crafts transforms the lives of people with disabilities in Tanzania, through handmade crafts, training and employment
Nearly two years ago I spent a few months in rural Tanzania, where I was delivering a programme of business education. In the town of Iringa in central Tanzania, I was amazed to discover Neema Crafts. Neema sell beautiful handmade products, made by people with disabilities right there in Neema's workshop.
Life can be very hard for disabled people in Tanzania, there's a lot of stigma associated with disability and many people are hidden away or have to rely on begging as there are very few alternative options available to them.
Neema Crafts provides fair trade work, adapted housing, skills, training and support for adults with disabilities and therapy for disabled children.
I was born hearing perfectly, however as a baby I was given the incorrect medicine and this permanently damaged my hearing. Because of this, life was really difficult for me as a child. I was afraid to go outside and didn’t have many friends.
When I started to go to school my confidence grew a little, but communication and learning was still a real struggle. In 2008, I moved to a deaf school, which was great, and I finished my education there. After finishing school, I took part in a tailoring course however there were no work opportunities for me to use these skills. I stayed at home and tried to earn what I could selling kasava and chai, but this was not enough to support myself and things were difficult.
In 2016 I learnt about the free tailoring course that Neema was running, and so I signed up. Here I built on my tailoring skills and at the end of the course I was offered a full time job at Neema Crafts as a tailor. I learnt how to make several products, including clutch purses and wash bags. Working at Neema Crafts has had a big impact on my life, as I am now financially independent and can send my daughter to school.
Jasmin makes animal safari bunting and pencil cases. Find them below:
I was born deaf and I am the only disabled person in my family. I am grateful that my parents sent me to primary school, which is very rare for a child with disabilities. However, unfortunately they decided not to send me to secondary school because it was expensive. They did not think it was worth paying for me as it was unlikely that I would ever be able to find good work.
I also came to believe that I did not have much potential or hope for my life. I ended up getting pregnant at a young age, and the father of my child left me. After struggling through years as a single, unemployed mother, I heard about Neema Crafts in Iringa and that they employ disabled men and women to make handcrafted products. After finding a job at Neema Craft, my life has turned around. I can now provide for my son and pay his school fees, which I am happy about as it means he has more hope for the future. I also now know that I am capable and important, with much more potential than I had come to believe. I find joy daily in the company of my friends at Neema and cannot imagine life without them.
Suzanna makes beautiful animal print cushions at Neema Crafts. Find them below:
Every Neema product is lovingly handmade and this means each item is unique to you! Some of the products are also labelled with the name of the person who created it, so you feel even closer to the person who made it for you.
Funding adapted housing
100% of Neema Craft's profits fund specially adapted housing for disabled staff in Tanzania.
Sustainable and ethically made
Neema Crafts use sustainable and environmentally-friendly materials for their products, and ensure ethical working conditions for their own team and the suppliers of their materials.
We're so pleased to stock Neema's beautiful products, and even more delighted to support such an important cause. We hope you love their products as much as we do! Explore all our Neema Crafts products here.
Good Things seeks out innovative, fair and eco-friendly toys and gifts for kids that do great things. Like toy boats made entirely from recycled milk bottles, or cards that are changing the lives of orphaned young adults in Rwanda. Have a look at our collections.