Chief Officer Pauline Lokuruka of Tourism, Culture and Natural Resources yesterday opened a ten-day Ushanga Initiative workshop for Master Beaders (trainers of trainers) at Napak Tented Campy in Eliye Springs.

The workshop is expected to equip 20 women trainers of trainers (ToTs) from Loima, Turkana Central and South Sub-counties with more beading skills using machines, to spur their inspiration for their own designs and use the said machines to actualise them and for value addition.

Speaking at the workshop, the chief officer challenged the women to own the initiative. “This initiative is for women and it gives you [women] the opportunity to make a business out of ushanga. And you are also promoting culture.”

The initiative is meant to train women in Turkana County on beadwork in order to empower them by changing the perception that the only use for beads is adornment. It can be used as an economic asset to improve their lives.

Hon. Alice Nang’iro – Nominated Member of County Assembly and Vice Chair of the Tourism, Culture and Social Services Committee – said the initiative is truly for the women in Turkana to improve their lives. She then advised the trainees to own the Ushanga Initiative and to fast track their potential in the ushanga industry.

She emphasised the need for them to show dedication and commitment so as to make it easier for her to lobby for funds to support more women beaders in the County Assembly.

Deputy Director of Culture, Philip Lokaala, reminded the group of their previous 14-day training – held last August in Lokichar – which focused on product finishing. He added that his department is working on reaching the rest of the sub-counties; Turkana East, Turkana West and Turkana North and Kibish.

The training of the Master Beaders is expected to give them the necessary skills to eventually develop their own designs that can be replicated by their future students.

“The role for designers will be training the rest of the women in entire Turkana county. Therefore, I encourage you to grow the others by your own example,” said Patricia Mbela, expert beader and trainer.

In her closing remarks, the Chief Lokuruka challenged the women to work hard on honing their beading skills and to improve the design so they can market their beaded products both locally and internationally.