Paying it Forward with Vital Voices in Kenya

by Columnist

My friend Nicole and I traveled to Nairobi at the end of September to help with the socio-economic development of tribal women from all different African countries.

By Michelle Malek Olson


Model wearing jewelry made by Rebeeca at a Diane Von Furstenburg fashion show.

We were there with Vital Voices, a DC-based, non-partisan organization that invests in women who are creating economic opportunities, advancing political reform, and safeguarding human rights.

This group is the real deal; their network even helps kidnap girls out of brothels in Cambodia. I was invited as a trainer, based on years as a professional jewelry designer for Saks Fifth Avenue, to help teach the women how to make their artisan products more appealing to a western audience, with the goal of helping them create products for export. Their products ranged from mohair and ostrich feather shawls and elaborate peyote stitch necklaces to bags made out of recycled straws and jewelry made out of paper.

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