Mama Ester Selendu
Mama Ester Selendu is 25 years young. She lives in Iringa with her husband and her three year old daughter, Naomi. Her mother is currently staying with her, so that Ester can care for her tuberculosis, and other various illnesses. Ester received education at a local village school, she completed form four, the equivalent to high school. She is fluent in Swahili, Kimaasai, and speaks basic English. She loves what she does, creating and selling traditional Maasai crafts like bracelets, bowls, wallets, decorations, and rings. Mama Ester buys bags of Maasai beads from Arusha for 5,000 TSH, roughly $2.25, and with one bag of beads, she is able to beautifully hand craft approximately 15 bracelets. It is very important to Mama Ester that women are able to go to school, get an education and work hard. She is a firm believer in the power of women, of herself, her daughter, and the future.
Mama Ester kisawani
Mama Ester Kisawani is 57 years young. Mama Ester is the proud mother of seven children and is commonly known as Mama Maasai because she teaches Maasai craft making classes. Her daughter Paulina follows her lead, teaching Maasai making classes to tourists in both English and Kiswahili for a price of 10,000 TSH or roughly $5.00 at a local non-profit cafe. Many of Ester’s children are currently working, or finishing form four- high school. Her daughter Elena hopes to one day go to University, if she can find the money to pay for it. Mama Ester has owned her business in Maasai Alley, selling her handicrafts, for eight years but learned the art of crafting when she was just a child from the other powerful women around her. Mama Ester perceives the inequality of education in Tanzania to be a major problem, sharing that men have more access and privilege of receiving an education than women. Mama Ester is a force to be reckoned with, leading fiercely, empowering those around her, and sharing her fiery energy with the world.
Mama Lea Lelengai
Mama Lea is 42 years young and was born in the Tanga region of Tanzania. She currently lives in Iringa, Tanzania. She has six children, two of whom are married. Her youngest child is currently in the second grade, all of her children live in Iringa. Mama Lea had a hard time starting her business in Iringa peaking interest in her crafts but has had much success as a business woman. She says it is hard to have a business that relies on guests and foreigners to buy her products because there are times when very few guests come, causing her to not be able to make the money she needs. The money she does earn goes directly to paying for school for her children, who are currently attending government funded public schools. Despite the hardships she has faced throughout her life, Mama Lea is a joyful, peaceful, jovial woman who celebrates life and loves Tanzania.