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Mama Rachel Ruto seeks to empower more women with Carakana relaunch

The First Lady of Kenya, Mama Rachel Ruto, on Wednesday relaunched Carakana, a program that seeks to empower vulnerable women through creative indigenous art.

Speaking during the commemoration of International Women’s Day at Lang’ata Women’s Prison, Mama Rachel Ruto urged correctional facilities to embrace activities such as cross-stitching as a way of helping women in prisons earn a living while preserving indigenous skills.  

“Cross stitching is a source of hope for the women in prison; it gives them dignity, a livelihood, respect from family, and a feeling of achievement. This also contributes to mental well-being and an income-generating indigenous skill,” Mama Rachel Ruto said. 

Formerly known as Cross-Stitch International, the Carakana program was established by Her Excellency Mama Rachel Ruto in 2016 in response to a call from vulnerable women, specifically women in prison, to support them earn a livelihood.

With the relaunch of Carakana, Her Excellency Mama Rachel Ruto seeks to positively impact the lives of women in all the 44 women prisons through traditional craft. 

“Our re-launch of Carakana today is important in 2 ways; to increase the number of beneficiaries in the 5 women prisons we are already working with in Lang’ata, Nakuru, Shimo La Tewa, Kakamega, and Kitale Women Prisons and second, to grow our reach to all the 44 women prisons in the country, holding a total of 6,000 women.

We want to expand Carakana offering to include other forms of creative art like crochet, bead making, basketry, needlework, knitting, and more,” Mama Rachel Ruto added. 

Carakana is a Mama Doing Good project under the Women Economic Empowerment pillar in the Office Of The First Lady. The program seeks to facilitate the transfer and preservation of indigenous skills, in the production of quality handmade items, for sustainable livelihoods and the well-being of vulnerable groups. 

Since 2016, the project has trained over 1,500 women and 537 women have produced quality artefacts that have earned them Ksh 5.15 million.

Mama Rachel Ruto also appreciated the critical role played by strategic partnerships between organisations geared towards empowering women in Kenya. 

“The project (Carakana Training) is life-changing not only for the Woman being trained but also for her family and community. As we all know, once you touch the life of one woman or girl positively, her world has no choice but to benefit and change for the better,” said Mama Rachel Ruto.

The First Lady was speaking at a separate event on Wednesday during the launch of Carakana Training partnership between Mama Doing Good, Prime Bank and Provide International in Korogocho, Nairobi.

The training partnership seeks to impact 1,610 women during its first phase and is projected to expand to 5,000 beneficiaries within the next five years. 

The program will focus on diverse creative arts such as knitting, crocheting, beadwork, basket weaving, and needlework.

To ensure the project’s success, Joyful Women Organization, a program under the Mama Doing Good organisation, will offer specialised table banking training for the women to save and borrow money and grow their businesses.

In addition, Prime Bank will provide financial support to facilitate the project’s implementation and expansion, and Provide International, as the local implementing partner, will provide space for conducting the training sessions and producing quality art pieces.