It is custom in Maasai culture for a man, many times much older, to marry a younger woman in exchange for a dowry of cows. Due to the age discrepancy, it increases the likelihood that they will be widowed. Once widowed, many do not inherit property because there are multiple wives. They are not allowed to remarry, nor can they return to their families because doing so would force them to repay the cows from the marriage dowry. Enkiteng Lepa, an NGO, created a village of protection in 2007, where Maasai widows can live peacefully. They collectively own a herd of cows and a cellphone charging business for the locals that use cell phones. Many of the women earn money from crafting and selling beadwork or performing traditional dances for tourists. The Pencil Promise hires these women to make all the backpacks for our deliveries to Kenya.
Journey’s Within Our Community [JWOC] // Cambodia
In Cambodia, The Pencil Promise is working with JWOC an organization that gives job skills training to women in need. These women have gone through a free sixteen week jobs skills training course teaching them to be seamstresses.The Pencil Promise has provided the materials and then employed these women, many who live in poverty at a squatters village nearby, to sew hundreds of The Pencil Promise backpacks. These backpacks not only provide much needed income to these women, but they are then filled with school supplies and given to children in need providing access to education for Cambodia’s most marginalized children. These are the backpacks that give twice.
Stitches of Tibet [SOT] // India
In Dharamsala, India we are working with Stitches of Tibet. They support the most marginalized Tibetan refugee women, forced to leave their homes due to the danger associated with their husbands who are political prisoners. They arrive in India with little money, education or jobs skills to secure employment. SOT gives their students vocational training by teaching them to sew, ensuring they can support themselves and their families. The Pencil Promise is looking forward to hiring these women to sew our backpacks for our next delivery to India.