of garbage and waste is a problem in many parts of Kenya. In the western Kenyan
city of Kisumu, the Zingira Nyanza group is hoping to reduce the amount of
garbage by making objects of beauty out of plastic bags, tin cans, and other
discarded materials. Cathy Majtenyi visited the group and filed this report for
Lucy Okudo braids strips from old plastic bags into a
rope. She collected the plastic bags from streets and garbage dumps in her
neighborhood in Kisumu.
the rope around a wooden frame to make a basket. Okudo has been creating
baskets out of plastic bags for almost eight years.
it's a win-win situation. "I saw the need of cleaning up the environment
and picking up polythene bags. I wanted to pick up the polythene bags and earn
a living from it. That is why I came up with the (basket) product, to be able
to feed my family and at the same time clean the environment," Okudo
town, Richard Omolo makes objects from metal sheets. He smoothes the rough
edges. By using scrap metal, Omolo says he is saving more than just the
the metal sheets are thrown away, they can cut children who are playing within
the dumping area,” Omolo said. “That is why it was ideal to approach the
companies and get the metal sheets from them to make good products."
Okudo are members of Zingira Nyanza, it's a 25-member group creating objects of
beauty out of trash.
hired by the group, gather plastic bags and other discarded objects from a
also purchases metal sheets from soft drink and beer companies looking to get
rid of defective bottle cap designs.
materials, members make a wide range of products like necklaces made out of
magazines, toys, mobiles, and jewelry boxes.
and lampshades are fashioned from water hyacinth fibers.
hyacinth is considered a danger to Lake Victoria. It cuts off oxygen and sunlight to the lake's plants and fish.
has put the maligned plant to good use.
Odhiambo, a former gardener, founded Zingira Nyanza eight years ago.
wanted to create job opportunities for the youth, staying within this
community, and I saw the need of cleaning up the environment, and I wanted to
do that in a creative way by having people earning a living from cleaning the environment,"
off by recycling paper, and then used the paper to make greeting cards.
recruited and trained young people to make the cards, and eventually other
Nyanza now employs more than 40 artisans.
says he encourages them to create their own designs. "We realize that many
of the youths around are so creative and their minds are just lying
fallow. No one is giving them a chance
to come up with their designs," Odhiambo said.
has big dreams. He hopes to sell the
group's jewelry, toys and other objects in Europe, North America, and beyond.