Since Benedicta Nanyonga and Kinawataka Women Initiatives invented the plastic straw products a few years ago, the organization began with training women in Kinawataka to make the straw handicrafts. Most of the straw products are still made in KIWOI’s workshop in Kinawataka, but the organization also started training disadvantaged women in other parts of Kampala and now across Uganda. Especially in rural areas where it is extremely difficult to find employment, the straw handicraft production offers a potential source of income, while enabling women to work from anywhere, with their babies and young children by their sides.
In the very same week that Benedicta was preparing and packing up her products to take to a gift show/exhibit in Los Angeles, California, a group of five women came from Gulu, a city in northern Uganda, for training in the ten-step straw production process. After four days, they returned to their homes with the instruction to practice, practice, practice. About one month later, Benedicta traveled to Gulu to check on their progress. When the trainees have mastered the techniques, they can teach the process to other women in the community and hopefully use these unique skills for income-generation.
For a glimpse of the training of the women from Gulu, check out the video. It highlights most of the steps in the process‚ with the exception of straw collection (as there were many straws already available at KIWOI) and the final stitching and finishing of the products.