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daughters of zion
self-help hiv/aids knitting group
by emanjah suzanne holetz (@emanjah)

Last October 2009, I had the wonderful opportunity of fulfilling a dream of a lifetime when I traveled to Kenya. It had long been my wish, to not only visit the beautiful country of Africa, but to also find a women’s craft collective to work with. My dreams were fulfilled and it is there, that I found my own grace. I am now working with these women to help them begin to create a business by which they will be able to support their families well with the necessities of food, clothing, shelter and medical assistance. This is a group of women who are single, often widowed, and infected with HIV and AIDS and they all have several small children to support.

The Daughters of Zion women’s self-help craft collective is the only means of support for these women and their families and they rely completely upon what they make and sell with the help of Grace and Peter Kangethe, their home and family.

Grace has always had the will and passion to help the sick, the poor and disadvantaged, and most all, those undergoing various difficulties like rape, forced early marriage and HIV victimization. By helping one widow or one single parent, she makes a difference to more than 8 people. It is extraordinary to note that most of the widows have more than 7 children, most too young to know what is happening to their mother with HIV.

After many long talks and struggles, Peter gave in to Grace’s dream and agreed to help her achieve her vision despite their own impoverished status. In October 2007, Peter and Grace established The Daughters of Zion, and they were able to have various volunteers who partner with Grace in her church, join them in their assistance. They began with 35 women and 4 volunteers… however, they now are without any assistance and continue to struggle to meet daily needs.

These women and their children are victims and have been infected through the careless behavioral beliefs, long held by indigenous tribes, that a man is entitled to several women. Thus the HIV/AIDS epidemic spreads and most often tragically affects the innocent when the men bring this home to their wives. The women of The Daughters of Zion are mostly widows and have been left to care for many children. Most have a very denigrated view of themselves because of the situations they have found themselves in, through no fault of their own, with no hope presently of ever rising up out of their impoverished state of being. The children are impacted tremendously and their inability to ever make things better, only serves to perpetuate this very sad situation.

During the 2007-8 political uprising and riots in Kenya, Peter’s shop through which he sold the women’s wares was burned to the ground, including all the women’s creations. Everything was lost and Peter and Grace were forced to acquire bank loans in order to rebuild. Peter no longer has a shop and is now relying on volunteers from the United States to help with the sales of their beautiful handicrafts. Thus, I have now stepped in with One Tribe Spirit, and I am working in several ways to create assistance for these women on a permanent basis… something that will grow and afford these people a decent way of life and the desperately needed medical care for their conditions and their children. In October when I was there, the bank officers came knocking on Peter’s door, demanding payment of which Peter did not have and life for all of these people remains extremely critical. I sat with women who were extremely sick and in a great deal of pain as they wove their baskets. Their sadness is tremendous and their physical pain excruciating and unimaginable, as they must persevere and continue on in efforts to feed their families.

The Daughters weave beautiful baskets, string beaded necklaces and knit sweaters, scarves and gloves. We are now interested in creating a manufacturing business that will afford these women an established building in which to work, and the necessary ways and means to create income by which they can regularly depend, with the hope to extend this work to many more women and families in need. The times in Africa are dire and many have nothing. A few American dollars, can go a very long way and as little as $800 can support 22 families for a month. An established knitting business would completely change the lives of these families in a productive, positive fashion that will once again give these women hope and re-affirm their abilities and self-esteem.

And so, it is by this means that we come to you, asking for anything you may wish to contribute in assistance for these Daughters. Specifically, we are hoping to acquire knitting materials, especially yarns, by which the women can begin to create an established manufacturing business that not only they can rely on, but will in turn, make it possible to assist many more women and children. While in Nairobi, I toured several similar businesses that have been established the same way, starting out small and now affording hundreds of impoverished single women the opportunity to earn a good living and support their families joyously. These women are excited to work and their success makes an enormous beneficial impact upon them mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I have yet to meet any people so filled with grace and humility.

In closing, I would just like to say that I have never met a culture of people who are so gracious, loving, welcoming and happy, despite their desperate situations. I do not know of anyone who deserves more, and we would love to accept anything in the way of knitting materials that you would be like to consider contributing. Your donation will be the basis upon which we will begin to build the Daughters success… and we have high hopes. The smallest gift from you will make an enormous difference… in many lives, now and for the future.

We thank you for your time and consideration. Please contact me so we may discuss how your help can be applied. All you have to do is call and let me know what you would like to give and I will take care of everything else. On the heels of the Haitian tragedy, I ask you, please consider this opportunity to reach out with your gift and dramatically change the lives of many. I look forward to hearing from you!

Karibu Asana… and Bright Blessings in the spirit of One Tribe ~


Lori Suzanne Holetz lives in a redwood forest in California with her beloved twin flame, Gregory Barker. She is a Shaman Healer, mother of three, a designer/creator/writer, storyteller and dreamer… and she maintains a private healing practice. She continues to explore many creative endeavors to foster healing for the Earth. She lives by only one rule… Never harm the Great Mother, and never harm any of Her Children!

more about emanjah suzanne holetz


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