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Neema Crafts

The latest (April 2016) pictures from Neema Craft are available in our photo gallery on this website - click here. 

Click here to download Ben and Katy's latest link letter (May 2016)

This starts .......
Much has happened in our lives since we last wrote, not least the arrival of our baby girl Alessia Grace. Since choosing to be born on a very memorable day (11/11/15), Alessia has been extremely healthy and strong throughout all of the ordeal of moving back to Tanzania from the UK at just three weeks old. Likewise, Katy has managed to cope with the huge strain of having a baby and moving home within such a short time. 

Transforming the lives of people with disabilities in Tanzania, through handicrafts, training and employment.

Neema Crafts was founded in 2003 to provide training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities in the Iringa region of Tanzania. It also aims to change negative attitudes towards people with disabilities in the local society. There’s a great stigma attached to having a disability in Tanzania, and the centre provides dignity and hope for many people who previously relied on street begging or were hidden away at home. The centre has eight craft workshop areas, a therapy unit for disabled children, an award winning cafe, a conference centre entirely staffed by deaf people and a welcoming guesthouse.

The centre trains deaf and physically disabled participants in a range of skills including cooking and hospitality in their cafe and guesthouse, and various crafts including tailoring, carpentry and paper-making in their eight workshop areas. As well as lifting its employees out of poverty, the centre aims to communicate God’s kingdom values to the surrounding region, showing that all people deserve to be given a chance to participate through employment and creativity.

The centre also has a therapy centre that offers physiotherapy to the high numbers of young children with disabilities in the region. In addition, it offers speech and language therapy, and occupational therapy to older patients. 

OUR Mission Partners - Ben and Katy Ray (Plus Zac)

Previously, Ben was a teacher at Monkton Combe School, Bath where he was head of Design and Technology. Katy worked as a freelance designer, with a studio, based within Monkton Coombe School. During her second year placement, Katy worked at Neema Crafts as a designer and trained staff in print making. Whilst she was there she was inspired by the project’s potential and had a heart to see employees set up their own small enterprises using the skills they had learnt.

 It was then when visiting Neema Crafts together in 2007 that Ben and Katy saw how much the work of the project resonated with their own calling. Having both spent their gap years working in rural Tanzanian villages, they were already aware of the extreme poverty in the country and its inevitable effects on the most vulnerable.

Read here the latest news from the CMS Newsletter……
From hopeless to home owners
5th  October 2015 - Categories: Mission Update

In 12 years, deaf and disabled men and women in Iringa, Tanzania have gone from begging on the streets to building their own homes.

This is thanks to CMS mission partners who pioneered Neema Crafts in 2003 with the diocese of Ruaha and also to the hard work done by the deaf and disabled Neema staff.

At a Neema staff meeting in October 2014, mission partner Ben Ray announced that profits from the Neema guest house had been set aside to help Neema staff build their own homes.

“This raised a loud cheer! It is such a gift from God to be able to do this.”

Four Neema staff members helped form a housing committee, which handles the house-building logistics. “In order to fund these houses, staff have to have saved up money to buy land and contribute a percentage,” Ben explained.

“Each beneficiary will personally own a two-room home that has been especially designed for disabled use.”

The first home built was for Mama A, who does beadwork at Neema.

Mama A, a widow, raised four children on her own. She scraped by, selling vegetables and making bricks until 2000, when she was in an accident and had to have her leg amputated. Using heavy crutches and with no prosthesis, she carried vegetables on her head every day into market until in 2007 she found work at Neema Crafts. And now she has her own home.

“Our dream is to see 40 homes built over the coming two years and up to 80 over the next five years,” said Ben.

“Current calculations indicate that we have enough for 30 such homes, so we are working to raise the rest of the projected cost through sales at our shop and other outlets.”

Neema has trained and employed more than 100 deaf and disabled people in a variety of skills and runs a physiotherapy centre and a guest house.

For more information please visit the Neema Crafts Webpage