Abigail grew up in Kenya and, though without hearing, never learned sign language or attended a school for the deaf. At eight years old, she was discouraged. Isolated. And like most deaf people in her country, considered a burden on her family and community. One day, Abigail met a group of women making jewelry. The artisans introduced themselves with their fingers - sign names that suggest who they are or where they come from, what they love. Then, a second time, they spelled out their formal names with the alphabet of signing - for they, too, were deaf.

The group brought Abigail into their circle and she began to see a world open . . . a world of language, kinship, possibility. Her smile outsized her little face.

Sasa Designs for the Deaf responds to a dire statistic: 85% of the deaf in Kenya are unemployed, cast out, forgotten. Most are not born deaf, but lose hearing as a result of a childhood infection that didn’t receive medical care.

At Sasa, deaf women are creating design-savvy wrap bracelets and other jewelry now for sale in 7 countries.  And growing their local economy by utilizing glass-makers and metal smiths for beads and chains. They are economically self-sufficient, growing in confidence and life-skills along with their financial gain. No more a burden, these women are budding entrepreneurs.

 
 

Watching the artisans reach out to young Abigail, the Sasa staff said, “Our artisans transformed before our eyes from women in need to women in power.”

ibu is all over that. We’re thrilled to offer these designs, so chic, so consequential.

Each wrap bracelet comes with a little pouch and a card from the woman who made it. Go ahead and wrap up your Valentine in something quite current and coveted by the stylish. Better still, something spelled in the language of love.

(Do yourself a favor and watch this video of their enterprise, narrated by their talented director and ibu ally, Megan McDonald.)