MADE51 is a global network, founded by The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which connects refugee artisans’ products with international markets. Mifuko has collaborated with MADE51 since 2019, by working together with Kapya Kitungwa and his workshop.
From our collection you can find ornamental wooden birds, that have been carved from fast-growing locally sourced Jacaranda wood by Kapya and his team. Kapya’s workshop employs nine artisans, four women and five men, whose roots are from Congo DRC, Rwanda and Kenya. Despite the different stories and backgrounds, all artisans share the love for working with wood and the common goal to help other refugees through their work.
“Whatever you decide to do, do it from your heart. Love the work you do. Have a vision.”
- Lesson that Kapya’s father taught him
Kapya is a refugee from Congo who has lived in Nairobi for over 20 years. When he moved to Kenya, he decided to use his artisan skills to create household items using wood. Now he employs nine people with different backgrounds, but a shared love for wood carving.
Kapya considers his father to be his biggest source of inspiration. When he was a little boy, his father would come home with a piece of wood and start carving. He taught Kapya the skills of wood carving and would always encourage him to work hard for his dreams.
Woodwork is something that Kapya considers to be part of his culture and many people from his childhood village used to share this activity. Now his dream is to teach and employ more people and continue to provide opportunities for refugees who are struggling in life. He wants to remind anyone in a suchlike situation to never loose hope in life and to always remain positive.
“I would tell my 16-year-old self to never lose hope in life. And to be positive, everytime.”
- Kapya K.
Elizabeth is a Kenyan artisan who is very passionate about the woodwork. She thinks that the finishing process is the sweetest part, because it allows to see the final result of all the work that has been put in.
Elizabeth is commonly described as very humble person who knows how to take care of other people. She wants to help the company to grow and to be able to teach artisan skills for other people as well. Her biggest inspiration is her businesswomen mother.
Elizabeth learned wood carving from Kapya, and she did not know many people with such skills before she started. According to Elizabeth, Kapya is a good person who always advices people to do things from their heart. She wants to give the same advice for others as well and encourage everyone to focus on the things that they love.
“I want this company to grow and teach other people how to do this.”
- Elizabeth W.
Ebalo is a refugee from Congo, and he is always doing his best to help his family. He is especially inspired by working on wooden bowls and is grateful for Kapya for introducing him to work that he loves to do.
Ebalo refers to Kapya as his biggest source of inspiration. He has not only taught him artisan skills, but also a mentality that as a refugee it is important to always help one another, despite personal difficulties. Ebalo would also like to teach wood carving for other refugees and pay it forward.
In the future Ebalo wants to become a businessman and continue to support the growth of the workshop.
“We are refugees. We come together and help each other.”
Written by Sami Syrjälä