Kenya: Our Story
Amani began in 1996 with four women sewing placemats together in Nairobi. One of these women was an American named Becky Chinchen. After fleeing the civil war in Liberia with her husband and four daughters, she found herself in Kenya among other refugee women. She saw the need to affirm the dignity and worth of those around her. Along with Magdalene from Mozambique and Lucy and Veronica, both from Sudan, she gave birth to Amani ya Juu, “Peace from Above.” They brought together skills in stitching, a love of African textiles, an eye for beauty, and a passion for spreading God’s peace. The convergence of their talents, needs, and desires brought Amani ya Juu to life.
With a loan of $500, they began making placemats in Becky’s home in Nairobi and selling them wherever they could around town — in hotels, at events, in shops. Becky saw great potential in this creative practice of doing business in a way that was empowering and ethical, and in adhering closely to these principles, Amani began to come into its own as a self-sustaining organization. The Amani center in Nairobi has grown over the years into a thriving oasis in a bustling city. It now boasts a beautiful production building, a welcoming shop, and a spacious garden cafe. Many people who pass through the Nairobi center say that the Nairobi center offers a sensory experience of peace to many. It has welcomed hundreds of new friends, including hurting women looking for a place to heal and visitors eager to learn more about Amani.