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Good News from Kenya

Why did Usha Shah, Convenor of the TOS work in Kenya, turn up at the International TOS Conference in the USA with purple toe nails?

As we all know, there are many ways of serving in this world. One of the easiest ever for Usha Shah was to serve as a guinea pig at the vocational skills training days she organized in late June for ladies in Nairobi. Manicure, pedicure and hairdressing were scheduled and Usha went in feet first! Enjoy reading her lively report.

Early on 25th June, twelve very eager-to-learn ladies arrived at the Theosophical Society premises to learn all about manicure and pedicure procedures. It was cold outside and the ladies were welcomed with biscuits and cups of curried tea – meaning with spices, milk and sugar all boiled together. Once they felt warmed-up and restored, we all trooped up into the teaching hall. We introduced ourselves and talked briefly about how financial independence can help in leading a stress-free life. Having their own money, it was suggested, assures women of dignity, self-respect and assistance with the material needs of their family. Pedicure, manicure and hairstyling are jobs that can be done in their own home, enabling women to be present for their children.

Fatma then took over. She explained all about nails, cuticles, the need to keep our nails clean – all the necessary things needed for manicure and pedicure.  After the theory, we had a lunch break where the ladies intermingled and discussed what they had learnt. Now the practical part began. Fatma demonstrated the exact procedure and the ‘guinea pig’ was Manjuber who throughout the three sessions helped to cater – along with Kiyo.

The procedure was cutting and shaping finger nails, soaking, softening and washing the nails, again filing, smoothing and cleaning followed by a massage and finally applying the nail polish. Manjuber’s nails looked lovely with the red nail polish! The ladies then began practising on one another and as we had an odd number, Kiyo received a manicure – the first in his life for sure! Everyone had lots of fun with ‘before and after’ nails under the watchful eyes of teacher Fatma. After having tea we dispersed at around 4 p.m. with really ravishing nails! 

The pedicure day was also led by Fatma and it was full of laughter as by now the ladies had become friendly and more open.  

The pedicure session more or less followed the same pattern but involved more work on the soles of the feet. The massage is very restful. 

The guinea pig was ‘yours truly’ who opted to have her toe nails colored PURPLE! 

The third session – a repeat of hairdressing – was delayed but it was worth waiting for Agnes, the teacher for this session. She explained to the group about hair, its composition and ways to see different types of hair. She then taught the ladies to braid, use extensions of false hair, and make bans, etc. The guinea pig for braiding was our Shama, our volunteer photographer for the three days, who after the session was given the name ‘Wanjiku’! The ladies were given a starter pack containing wigs, extension hair, combs, etc.

We finished at around 4.30 p.m. tired but happy. So ended three days of learning, practicing and maybe a transition to an income generating project from home. Three ladies from the last session on hairdressing have found employment in salons and one has women come to her home for hairstyling!

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