Galana Amani Women’s Group

The Galana Amani Women’s group are a group of women from the Galana area who have come together to continue their education and learn new skills with the support of Friends From Ireland. Friends From Ireland have been working in the Galana area since 2012 and through our projects have gotten to know some of the ladies in the area. It was clear to us that these were strong, determined women with huge potential who were eager to learn and better themselves, but were lacking the necessary resources to do so. In September 2014, we held our first local women’s meeting.  This was hugely successful with approx. 34 women attending.

The discussions in the meeting centred around the positive impact that Friends From Ireland projects have had on their children and community. We explored with the women how they felt Friends From Ireland could help support them. Immediately it became clear that the priority for the group was learning how to read and write in both Swahili and English, as well as learning tailoring. A quick poll told us that only seven of the women present were literate. With the opening of the newly renovated primary school, with electric power in the evenings, the women now had the opportunity to use these resources and evening classes were arranged. Jackie, the local kindergarten teacher, agreed to take on the extra work and teach the women in the evenings.


Friends From Ireland returned to Galana in September 2015 and the women decided that they would like to set up a “Merry-go-Round” system. This is a traditional way for groups of women to save money together. Friends From Ireland were also delighted to be in a position to hand over a Singer sewing machine to the group. A teacher was agreed upon and the women group was established in the two last room of the clinic, which Friends From Ireland had renovated in 2012.


When Ann Marie and John returned to Galana in January 2016 we were astounded by the level of progress by the group. The sewing group now had 12 members and all were learning to sew on the machine as well as on old posho (maize meal) paper bags. The group showed us their buttonholes and hemming work. We were thrilled and the following day delivered a second sewing machine. It was obvious that the women were ready to make the school uniforms and we agreed the price they would sell them for, making sure they were not underselling themselves! We returned later in the week with the material, thread and buttons needed to make approx. 30 kindergarten school uniforms. It was during this visit that the group decided to call their group the Galana Amani Women’s Group; Amani means peace in Swahili and Peace is exactly the spirit in which these women work.


In January 2018, we were thrilled to work with Lauren of Mabel who thought the group how to make reusable sanitary kits, and over the course of 10 days we made over 40 kits, which have been of huge benefit to those using them.


In January 2019 we visited the group again with Lauren from Mabel which allowed us to get feedback on the feminine hygiene kits made and distributed the previous year. The feedback Lauren received was overwhelmingly positive, those who received the kits found them very beneficial and the majority continued to use them.  Some of the girls in the primary school who had not received the menstrual lesson last year requested the lesson again, and Lauren kindly obliged, providing a lesson to all present.

As of December 2019, the group has 12 members learning how to sew and nearly 20 in the “merry-go-round”.

The group has continued to develop in the intervening years. The women are now proficient in making Kikois (traditional sarongs) and are selling these to Friends From Ireland volunteers when they are on projects. As just a couple of ladies in the group were doing the majority of the sewing for the school uniforms they have decided to focus on training up each member to sew the uniforms and will then return to making them for the local school children.


This group was a new venture for Friends From Ireland and to date it has been a huge success. The women have shown passion and determination and have worked very hard to learn new skills. Attending a 2-hour meeting every Saturday means sacrificing time with their families yet these women have chosen to empower themselves, in turn sending a very positive message to their children. The fact that the group is made up of women from all the different tribal and religious groups in the area, working together in harmony, is nothing short of an inspiration to us all. These women have also shown us that this is a model that can be replicated in other communities. Friends From Ireland will continue to support the group in any way we can and look forward to seeing just how far the ladies can take us.