August 16, 2010

shanga

Our first day in Africa had been planned... and honestly, I was unsure. We would visit a place where disabled adults worked... but being a world away from home and the progress we have made here in our own country,I wondered, what would it be like in Africa? The trepidation, and any fear that turned in my stomach, vanished when we turned the corner...



The trees were strung with glass beads... and with every turn of my head, I became more entranced with the atmosphere.  Already I knew... this was a very special place. 
We met our host Emanuel... and he told us that Shanga was Swahili for beads... and added that Shangaa was Swahili for amazing.  Amazing beads?  Yes... and so much more.
He guided us through the open air workshops and shared about the people who worked there and how it made them feel important.  Strips of silk hung ready to be turned into jewelry and a display of necklaces tugged at my heart... and my wallet. 


Marbles are melted and turned into beautiful translucent beads... glass bottles are shaved down to a fine powder to create an earthy bead.  Metal scraps are melted and poured into molds, producing casts of beautiful frames and decorative pieces... all of which make it to their gift shop.  Perhaps the young men could not hear our exclamations of how beautiful their work was... but a smile conquers all. 
Soon, we were invited to interact and participate.  I was torn... between wanting to play, and wanting to capture my kids working side by side with these amazing people...


We sat with our group and enjoyed a sign language lesson, and then were taken on a tour of Shanga's coffee plantation.  It was fascinating to see the process, from tree to bean.  And, these beans have already been purchased... by Starbucks.


Before we left, we enjoyed coffee and cake on beautiful benches, piled high with pillows, on the lawn. 
 

Oh... and of course, there was shopping. 
Shanga might be one of the most beautiful places on this earth. 
It was such a special place, and it was an amazing start to our discovery of Tanzania. 

Photobucket

9 comments:

Richella said...

Oh, what a cool place. The jewelry is beautiful--and I love the idea behind that place! What a way to start your trip!

Busy Bee Suz said...

What a sweet and fun adventure!!!!

I do hope you took a photo of your table of gifts...especially the nativity with the tall Jesus.

Corinne said...

That picture of your three enjoying cups of coffee is so cute :) Love their faces!!
Gorgeous photos... the colors, the feels...

Jen said...

Ahhh the story book with pictures begins. Love it!
(looks like Laura isn't sure about that Starbucks coffee.) ha.

dawn said...

i was hoping you'd tell the story of this place I had seen in your facebook photos. It sounds like a perfect day.

Graceful said...

Your pictures on this post are amazing -- so vibrant. I love this!

tracie @ {tsj} photography said...

dawn, this is like christmas morning reading all these posts i've missed!

so beautiful, so exciting!!

imoomie said...

Love the glass and how it is turned into beads...I am sure you will never look at a cup of Starbucks the same again.

deb said...

okay.....
this is just stunning.
all of it.
oh my.