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USAID and Tuko Pamoja and Axinene Ari Vava

Axinene Ari Vava is turning heads, catching the eyes and ears of many

It’s not surprising given the energy generated by a focussed group of women. Together we are 23; 19 trainees plus 4 of us in textile design, training and management. And it’s been a packed fortnight of activity.

Big thanks to USAID

We recently secured a grant from USAID under Tuko Pamoja program to further support the project. So on Day 1 of the workshop, banners, T Shirts and Caps arrived. Madeleine, who was representing Tuko Pamoja, was treated to an all singing, all dancing special welcome. And was clearly impressed with the energy and warmth. The support from USAID makes a wonderful difference to the project. It will provide start up equipment such as sewing machines, office and IT equipment (computer, printer, smartphone etc), training materials and workshops, funds to form a cooperative, field trips, daily lunches and transport for the trainees.

Natural Dyeing Workshop

Avocado pits are pounded, then simmered in to make a rose pink dye.

Wacy and Djamila introduced dyeing with natural products. We used avocado pits and skins, leaves from cassia (Red flamboyant and Yellow Cassia), onion skins, rusty nails, umi stone, leaves from Indian Almond tree, casuarina nuts, bark of mangrove trees. Plant material was peeled, pounded, processed. Different dye baths were prepared and fabric was tied, pegged, submerged and simmered. Various methods of ‘fixing’ were applied including washing in tubs of sea water (no shortage of that on island!). Recipes were recorded and colour sample books prepared by everyone. The resulting colour range was a soft palette of pastel and earthy colours – quite different to what we are used to here on Ilha. With the newly dyed fabrics the women began to add embroidery to spectacular visual effect.

Mayassa embroidering onto dyed sail cloth.

The design inspiration is a window grille in Ilha’s old Stone Town

A hand woven cotton shawl from Niassa (northern most province of Mozambique) was presented as a blank canvas. The shawl was made from Niassa grown cotton which is harvested, prepared as thread and supplied to a women’s coop to weave into fabric. Ancha embroidered it and then it was hand dyed with the discarded bark from mangroves, otsiro.

Amina modelling the cotton shawl accompanied by naturally dyed capulana

Extra events during the workshop

Mozambican Women’s day

Young Axinene participants dressed for Mozambican Women’s Day

Mozambican Women’s day occurred during the workshop – perfect! A brilliant day of Women’s solidarity and fun. Ilha Blue took all of us by traditional sailing dhows to Cabaceira.

Boarding Ilha Blue’s ‘Nankumi’ to sail to Cabaceira Pequena

For many, it was the first time on a boat. But everyone was secure in their life jackets and also secure in the professionalism of Ilha Blue. From ‘getting ready’ to the streets of Ilha, to the dhows waiting at the end of jetty, to embarkation and final arrival to the headland of Cabaceira there was singing, dancing, laughing and nonstop freedom. We ate lunch under the sacred baobab trees, swam in a crystal clear lagoon, played Banane (a cloth ball tagging game), danced the Mooro (traditional dance for young women) and Nsope (dancing interwoven with skipping rope).

Listening Session with Beatriz Chivoco from Tuko Pamoja project

Small group discussions

Funded by USAID, the Tuko Pamoja program works to support community resilience to the conflict in Cabo Delgado. Tuko Pamoja wants to understand the experience that women are undergoing in the northern coastal areas of Mozambique; their fears, their hopes, feelings of economic marginalisation and how it affects them personally and their families and community. Beatriz is local to Cabo Delgado and invited the women of Axinene to share their experiences. As is the positive style of Axinene, Beatriz was welcomed into the space with a song written for her.

Meeting Renato Imbroisi

We also enjoyed a Zoom session with the famous Brazilian textiles artisan, Renato Imbroisi. Renato has worked throughout Mozambique on different occasions and is planning to return as soon as Covid allows. He has heard about the work that Axinene Ari Vava are doing and this was an opportunity for him to see us in action and feel the Axinene energy. It will be valuable for the future of the project to have this connection with him and his specialised talent. Networks are so important and particularly so when you are isolated on a small island floating in the Indian Ocean.


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