Styling: Christina Schmidt | Photography: Phil Ashley
Waste Paper Basket by Yajibelena, £49, Available at Skandium
Last week, I met Christina Schmidt, one of the founders of Skandium and she brought my attention to a wonderful project in Burkina Faso started by a woman named Eva Seidenfaden. Here is a little bit about it!
It all started, trying to find a way to help women in Burkina Faso to find a means to make a living for themselves and their families. Their tradition is basket weaving, my passion is basket weaving, says Eva Seidenfaden, the initiator of this brilliant self help project. Eva comes from Denmark. 10 years ago, she visited Burkina Faso, one of the poorest African counties. She made it her mission to help with the knowledge she had, basket weaving, and founded work groups in Ougadougou the capital and in Banfora the South of the country.
Suitable materials had to be found and tested for quality, durability and price. The materials were tested, work schedules set up and weaving techniques exchanged and tried out. Transport had to be organised, wages to be paid, customers had to be found. A simple product, yet an extensive list of tasks to be looked at and consistently followed through. “It has taken a number of years to get all details in order and the production and selling chain working, and now it is a self sustaining, working business”, Eva says proudly.
It takes a day to weave one basket and the women are paid equal pay to what a bricklayer earns a day.
50 women have made more than 3000 baskets until now. The baskets are based on an original Danish basket weaving design but each weaver is encouraged to add their own weaving patterns or colour to their product. A number of different techniques are used and the women choose the technique, pattern and colour for their basket.
These women do not enjoy the security and comfort of life we are used to. There is no alternative of work available other than heavy, low paid hard labour. The basket weaving is not just paying an acceptable wage, the organised work has helped to create a sense of community, self help initiatives in many aspects of every day needs. From a social point of view the project has brought a very positive spirit with nice atmosphere, creating new ideas and initiatives, instead of long days of hard labour, uncertainty and worries.
The baskets are sold in local African markets, in Denmark and now also at Skandium.
Eva is proud, her groups of weavers are able to deliver high quality products, stay in budget and deliver in time. This gives high hope, the project will grow, find new markets and give people a steady income.
When we buy a basket, we have paid a days wage for the woman who made it, helping each of them to sustain her family.
One basket supports one woman for one days paid work!