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Photos from Ghana 2012

Posted by Matt Sutton on May 18, 2012 in Uncategorized
I’ve uploaded some photos and text from our trip to Ghana in March 2012. Hopefully it will give you a flavour of what it’s like to be involved in setting up a project in rural Africa

Children from the Bronze Village

We all visited the “bronze village” near Kumasi. Julie and I wanted to buy a selection of bronze items for our respective shops and also support the local craftsman here. They manufacture the pieces using traditional methods of hand moulding the wax and then utilizing clay ovens to heat the metal. Here are some children from the village. They adore having their photo taken and wait in excited anticipation to see the results in the viewer.

 

Matthew takes Julie out on Bosumtwi Lake

Bosumtwi Lake is an extraordinary place and we visited it on our first Sunday. It was to be our only day off. The lake is almost a perfect circle and was formed five million years ago following a meteor strike. The surrounding hills are richly forested and were created by the debris from the impact, making it a “must see” on any visit to Ghana. It is also an ameteur geologists dream and there is a small information point and museum with some very knowledgeable park rangers. The lake is quite large and has been fished by the Ashanti peoples since time immemorial. By tradition they use carved planks made from the local trees to fish and the tradition persists to this day.

 

Awabu and Esther get to grips with Julie's patterns

Teela Textiles was very much Jessie’s idea and she put together all the design elements and played the key role in choosing the fabrics as well as working with Julie on product design. However, when it came to production Julie took on the lead role with her long experience as a seamtress. The 8 days we spent in the north were centred around the workshop in Kumbungu, where Julie undertook the training of ladies in making up the textile products. Our one diversion was to attend the funeral of a local village chief from the village of Singa across the Volta river. This was quite an experience for us all and I’m hoping to upload a video of the events in due course. It’ll be worth the wait!!

 

Julie, Awabu and Martha sewing in the porch to keep cool

While work was being done to install the electrics and also the fans work went on in the porch. Well it was a little cooler here! One side of the porch was dedicated to the textiles, the other to the button hearts. Here are some of the donated sewing machines in use. The workshop itself was bought and is owned by the And Albert Foundation. The plan is for it to be used for not just for the button hearts and making textiles but as a local community centre for education, especially in the use of computers for young people. Mobile phones are in quite common usage but computers are still very scarce. Few local villages have electricity.

Jessie, Wumbe and the ladies sorting buttons ready for "production"

Here we are sorting the many thousands of buttons donated by people all over the UK whether through shops, schools or private individuals. Every button had to be sorted by size. A long and patient job! Jessie trained some of the local ladies in button heart making, but so did Wumbe who has become quite an expert himself. In this picture both Jessie and Wumbe are making up hearts while the ladies are doing the sorting.

 

 

 

 
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Ghana Visit March 2012

Posted by Matt Sutton on May 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

Julie, Jessie and me visited Ghana between March 15th and March 28th. It was a challenging trip in every sense of the word . We had two aims. First to transfer the making of the button hearts from Kumasi to the workshop in Kumbungu and second to set up our new textile project Teela Textiles. We had just 12 days to buy the fabrics we needed, get the workshop up and running, train the ladies how to make the new products that include bags, pouffees, cushion covers and also transfer the making of the button hearts to Kumbungu and undertake the necessary training. Phew! (and it was hot too with a couple of days approaching 45 degrees C). Wumbe aaccompanied us for the whole trip and Awabu came north for the first few days training. Anyway despite the time pressure we succeeded and will be receiving our first shipment of textile and Kumbungu made button hearts in June. It was also great to see Jonas from Burkina Faso who came south to Kumbungu. He works alonside David Murden at the And Albert Foundation. www.and-albert.com on charitable work and aslo craft workers.

Making Button Hearts

 
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Back to Ghana

Posted by Matt Sutton on Dec 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

Our latest news is that we will be heading back to Ghana in March 2012. The workshop in Kumbungu is nearing completion and at last our button hearts project will find its permanent home. It just needs to be fitted with tables and benches so we’re aiming to send Wumbe the funds at Christmas so everything will be ready for the move when we visit. We’re going to be busy because as well as moving the making of the button hearts there we will also be setting up a second project to make some really fantastic textile products. The workshop is owned by the And Albert Foundation and it has long been founder David Murden’s dream to set up a weaving and textile making project in the area. We will be partnered by Julie James of Baobab Jungle who has her shop within the Van Hage Garden Centre near Ware in Herfordshire. We have been donated ten sewing machines and a pair of overlockers specially for the task so watch this space!!

 
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More Buttons from Baroque

Posted by Matt Sutton on Dec 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

Last month we visited Lisa and Nikki at Baroque in Denbigh, North Wales to collect another 20 kilos of buttons! A big thank you to them and all the people in Denbighshire who have given us so much support. We will be collecting buttons from our stockists over the coming weeks as we will sending out more buttons in the new year, so if anyone has old buttons stored away and would like to donate them please get in touch..

 
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Latest shipment on its Way

Posted by Matt Sutton on Dec 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

We’ve just had word that Wumbe has delivered our latest batch of button hearts down to Accra ready for shipment home. Many thanks are due to Jonathan at Rainstick Trading for facilitating this. Just in time because it’s been a busy autumn for sales with lots of new accounts opened selling the button hearts all around the country. Also included on the shipment is our first batch of Valentine Hearts. In red and very pretty these will make the perfect gift on the special day..Available from the first week in January.

 
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The workshop in Kumbungu nears completion

Posted by Matt Sutton on Sep 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

Out in Ghana Wumbee has done an amazing job to get all the windows and doors fitted in the workshop with the money that was sent earlier in the summer. The workshop is now almost complete with only benches and worktables still required. The workshop which is owned by the And Albert Foundation www.and-albert.com will have a multi functional use to make products such as the  button hearts, as a base for our new textile project but also as a training and educational resource for the local community.

 
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All set to Go!

Posted by Matt Sutton on Sep 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

The third consignment of buttons, wire and ribbon is just about ready to head off to Ghana. Jessie’s guillotined 6000 labels and Matthew’s sorted the buttons and packed the box, which weighs over 40 kilos. We’re hoping the shipment gets there for the middle of next week, so Awabu and her ladies can get started on the Christmas order.

 
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Buttons from Baroque

Posted by Matt Sutton on Sep 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

In August we teamed up with Nikki and Lisa Edwards of “Baroque” in Denbigh, North Wales one of the first “Button Heart” stockists to promote our buttons collection scheme. The local papers ran the story and the response from local people was beyond all our expectations. Over 20 kilos of buttons were collected from people all over Denbighshire. They now been sorted and made ready for our next shipment to Ghana.

 
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Second Shipment of Button Hearts leaves Kumasi!

Posted by Matt Sutton on Apr 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

Our second shipment of 6000 Button Hearts has just left Kumasi with Wumbe and is now on route to Accra for shipment back to the UK. We’re expecting the new stock to arrive in the UK for mid May. There will be lots of new mini hearts and each one will have it’s own information label.

 
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The Buttons for Africa site is up and running

Posted by on Jan 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

News just in from Africa

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