SHONA Congo

4 women sewing beauty in Eastern Congo
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Monday, February 20, 2012

How We Travel

Let me just say it. Because unless you have been to Congo you probably can't really imagine. It is a miracle. Point blank. The fact that you can purchase a handmade bag from Congo. I know we make it seem easy. You order it and it arrives at your door a few days later. But that package, or rather the thing inside it, has made a truly incredible journey. A journey that started like this...

That is Argentine, with Solange behind her, on her kinga. Kinga means bicycle in Swahili, or in this case I guess it means tricycle. Argentine peddles it with her hands, and usually has someone to help push her. When the ladies are done a month of sewing, Argentine loads her Kinga with a 44 pound carton of SHONA goods and peddles it to the main road, on this path...

And that is just the start of the journey...a journey that ends a number of border crossings, bus rides and plane rides later, here in New York... with each individual purchase going out to the post office, carefully escorted by myself and Baby Claire (in her ridiculously large stroller).

You can get a quality, handcrafted bag from Eastern Congo delivered to your doorstep for under $15. A miracle? Yes. How is it possible? It is possible precisely because your bag travels like this...it starts in a tricycle and ends in a stroller. SHONA is truly the work of our hands. So next time you get a bag from SHONA, take a minute and look at that picture of Argentine again. And imagine the journey your bag has made. It will amaze you in so many ways.


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