An upcoming initiative will promote environmental awareness by encouraging local Neem tree planting to address food scarcity in the Wote community. Neem trees prevent soil erosion thus sustaining agriculture.
Neem tree extracts have been used for centuries in Asia and Africa for natural pesticides, insect repellents, toothpaste, medicines, and health tonics. The tree itself is used in reforestation projects in hot, dry regions.
In this century, the neem tree has often been hailed as a "wonder plant." Neem-based pesticides have been developed, and the potential health uses of chemicals extracted from the tree have been studied during the last 40 years. It is most effective in the prevention & treatment of malaria. In Kenya it is known as “Muarobaini’ the tree that cures more than forty diseases.
Marafiki Arts is helping to produce hand-spun, natural-dyed cotton yarn and printed and dyed textiles in Wote, Makueni Kenya through a collaboration between American textile artists and the Wote community.
Under the tutelage of Cynthia Porter, a Philadelphia textile artist and Marafiki Arts board member, community members are trained to produce yarn that will be competitive in the global marketplace. The yarn is produced using the drop spindle and the Charkra Wheel. Marafiki Arts is specifically interested in using tools that will enable the community to produce yarn from their homes so as to build family businesses. The yarn is colored in a range of natural dyes taking advantage of local experts in the Wote community who are known for making sisal baskets using natural dyes.
Marafiki Arts has established a textile workshop at St. Patrick’s Vocational Training Center in Wote that provides opportunities for product development and marketing through U.S. – Kenyan cultural exchanges.
The workshop provides training facilities for screen printing and dyeing of textiles, as well as paper-making from cotton pulp and other fibers. The workshop also develops a range of natural dyes to be used in these processes. The goal of the workshop is to build the capacity for local artists to generate sustainable incomes.