10 Ways to Fight Poverty in Africa for Under $100.00

10 Ways To Fight Poverty in Africa For Under $100

I first starting traveling to Africa in the 1980’s and I had just graduated from college. With virtually no money, my boyfriend and I would pick our vacation spots during those early years based on the cheapest airfare. Over time we traveled to many different countries and had lots of great experiences, yet most of these were in third world countries. Naturally our dollars went much further in poorer countries versus developing nations and it helped that we didn’t have refined palates at the time. A beer and a burger in a sidewalk cafe in Costa Rica or a mystery wrap from a street vendor in Cairo and we were happy. (I only really got sick once or twice – not bad odds for years of travel).

I look back on those trips and I realize now what an impact all those days and weeks spent in impoverished places had on who I am today. I remember staying in a hotel where the lobby literally looked like it had been bombed. I remember quickly eating my dinner with one hand while keeping the flies off it with my other hand. I remember going to sleep in a B&B that was so cold I wore 3 sweatshirts, a dress, 2 pairs of socks, and a hat to keep from going numb.  

Those weren’t the memories that made those trips great. It was the memories of the things I saw and the people I got to know, that really made those times special. We always made a point to talk to the locals, share a meal, and engage them in conversation. What we learned was beyond what you could read in a Frommers’ Travel book. And even though many of these people had only shacks to sleep in, had little food to feed their families with, and certainly no material wealth, I always felt like they gave us something priceless. I felt special in being able to see what most people will never see -  an insight into their lives, their thoughts, their feelings, even though they lived in abject poverty.

My travels nourished me and over the years I became very comfortable walking beside people of every race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. As the founder of LivAfrika, I still travel but my perspective is different now more than ever. I strive now to give back. Give back to the cultures, give back to the communities, and give back to the most important aspect of travel – the people. And it’s easier than I thought to make a substantial difference in the lives of people, especially the people of Africa, because so little goes so far and can do so much.

This blog post is the result of some time spent collecting ideas that I know are powerful, ways that you can give and have an immediate impact on impoverished lives. There are countless ways to give and countless fantastic charities, but I wanted to present 10 ways where you, for less than $100, can have a direct impact on a child, a family, even a community. Knowing you can do any, or all of these things, for less than two tanks of gas here in the USA makes my heart grow a little bigger. Share these ideas with the people you love and be sure and share the love if you decide to give anything towards helping the fight against poverty.


Help Build a Well


All of us understand there are numerous reasons why poverty has become an epidemic in Africa. It is the result of political instability, ethnic conflicts, climate change and other man-made causes. But most of us don’t understand that poverty and water are directly related.

The Water Project is tackling one of the greatest causes of poverty in Africa and one that is perhaps the most overlooked – the lack of access to clean drinking water.

The Water Project

Nearly one billion people do not have access to clean, safe water – which is the equivalent of 1 in 8 people on the planet! As the Water Project will show you, this is a problem that can be solved.

For less than an average of $34 per person, The Water Project is able to work with local partners to provide closer access to clean water. Their goal is to bring clean, sustainable water supplies to within a 1km (1/2 mile) of a village. By doing so, communities can be freed to begin working themselves out of poverty.

When you give to help build a well, you'll make sustainable agriculture possible. You will allow children to get back to school instead of collecting dirty water all day. You'll help father's find more time to care for their family, maintain a farm, and even run a small business.


Feed a Child for a Month (or 3!)


Malnutrition steals kids’ health and can be shocking beyond belief. Imagine meeting a young girl, who, at first glance you guess that she’s 5-years-old. But after talking to her you discover the truth. She’s 9. Her growth has been permanently stunted by lack of food and nutrition. You can fight malnutrition with the Feed the Children organization, and become part of something so much bigger – part of a team who is fighting to feed kids.

Feed The Children

For a dollar a day, you can feed a malnourished child for an entire month with a healthy, Ready To Use Food (RTUF) called VitaMeal. VitaMeal (link to vitameal .pdf) is a specially formulated food product developed for malnourished children. Each VitaMeal package contains 30 child-sized meals, or enough food to provide a child with one nutritious meal each day for a month.

At this price, you could feed a child every day for 3 months, or feed 3 hungry children for an entire month.


Host a Painting for a Purpose Night


A "Painting for a Purpose" party is a great way to help Give Hope, Fight Poverty (GHFP), spread the word and have fun in the process!  GHFP is a nonprofit whose mission is to foster philanthropy domestically by designing service-learning programs that engage US student’s and professionals with rural communities in Swaziland, Africa and work together to educate, empower and lift orphaned and vulnerable children – particularly those living in child-headed households – out of poverty.

I Fight Poverty

At your Painting for a Purpose Event, art teachers will bring all of the supplies necessary for you and your friends to paint "masterpieces" (no artistic skills required!).  Each participant will paint either a canvas for an orphan or a piece of a mural that will be hung in their school classrooms in Swaziland! You can customize almost any event; bachelorette party, baby shower, wedding shower, birthday, or even just a girl’s night out!

This event requires a donation of $25 per person and right now it is currently only available in the Indianapolis IN, Springfield IL Lafayette IN, Chicago IL, and surrounding areas. Check out their website for more details.


Buy a Bicycle for a Health Worker


The Beyond Poverty organization has a mission; to liberate the people of the world from the burdens of extreme poverty. With a strategy of empowering local leaders of communities to be agents of transformation, they enable these communities to solve their own problems and break free from the cycle of poverty.

Beyond Poverty

In Kenya, much of the care Kenyan rural villagers receive is from Community Health Workers traveling to the villages. These workers travel by foot nearly 10 miles per day to bring medical and health training and education to rural schools and villages. Transportation is currently slow and costs are out of pocket, making life difficult for health workers. Health education provided includes hygiene, HIV/AIDS, sanitation, STI testing, malaria prevention, how to access available medical services, child health and more. Having a low-cost means of transportation, your bicycle gift, will double the service area for a health worker.

When you buy a bicycle for a Health Worker, it immediately DOUBLES the number of families and school children a Worker can visit per month. 70 bicycles will create a fleet for 50 active health workers and new incoming health workers. Your $70 provides a Community Health Worker with a bicycle to aid in their daily work and increases direct, personal access to healthcare for patients.

One bicycle can double the amount of families and children a worker can help every month.


Give $420 Worth of Medicines for $35!


It doesn’t seem possible at first glance, but for a $35.00 donation, the World Vision organization will provide $420.00 worth of medicines to children who are dying every day because they do not have access to basic medicines that could save their lives.

World Vision

Your gift will multiply its impact 12 times over as they ship and distribute essential pharmaceuticals and medical supplies like antibiotics, anti-fungal’s, anti-parasitic drugs, de-worming medications, disposable syringes, gastrointestinal drugs, painkillers and surgical supplies.

The World Vision organization is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice. They work in nearly 100 countries around the world, serve all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.

At this price, you could give $105. and be donating $1,260.00 worth of medicines.


Give a Small Farm to a Family


At Heifer International, their mission is to work with communities to end world hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. They empower families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity – but their approach is more than just giving these people a handout. They link communities and help bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty.

For $85.00, you can give a needy family a small farm: geese, ducks, chickens and rabbits are all included in a package Heifer International calls their Promise Gift Basket.

Heifer International

The gift basket gives that small farm to a family which results in providing income by supplying eggs and other goods to sell, and sustains the family with nourishment from protein. And in a stroke of genius, families who receive your gift become donors as they pass on the gift to other families in need in their community. This allows them to help others as you have helped them – your one gift can have up to 9x the impact!

Heifer International focuses on making sure the money earned from selling the goods produced by this gift will pay for better housing for a woman needing to find decent shelter for her poor family, as well as school tuition and supplies for her children. And it will enable her to pass on the gift quickly, securing the promise of a better future for her entire neighborhood.

Your one Promise Basket gift could end up helping over 9 families eat better every day.


Give Books


At Books For Africa, they believe that education is the great equalizer in the world, and books are at the foundation of a strong educational system. For many children in Africa, the gift of books truly is a gift of hope.

Most African children who attend school have never owned a book of their own. In many classrooms, 10-20 students share one textbook. Many people in the United States take these educational necessities for granted, but children in Africa cherish books.

Books for Africa

Books For Africa supplies sea containers of books to rural school libraries, orphanages, adult literacy programs, and community resource centers. Books For Africa strives to help create a culture of literacy and provide the tools of empowerment to the next generation of parents, teachers, and leaders in Africa.

Books For Africa appreciates all your book donations. It costs .50 cents to ship a book to Africa, so let’s say you have 50 books to donate (this will cost $25.00 to ship). You can mail your books to their warehouse in Atlanta, Georgia, or St. Paul, Minnesota, or you can physically drop them off at either of these locations.

You could donate up to 200 books, and pay for the shipping, for about $100.00. And Books for Africa can even handle book donations over 450 pounds.


Send Mosquito Nets


Since 2010, Nothing But Nets has partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help Americans lend their voice to the fight against malaria. Together, they have contributed to sustaining strong U.S. support for the President’s Malaria Initiative and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and getting malaria interventions to families across Africa.

Nothing But Nets

Every 60 seconds, a child dies from malaria. For a family in Africa, a net can mean the difference between life and death. For just $10, your gift purchases, delivers, and educates the recipients on its proper use. Bed nets are a simple, life-saving solution, but we need your help to provide them to those in need - you can protect a family and save a life.

At this price, you could gift 10 nets which would help 10 families live without malaria.


Gift an Eco Loo (Portable, Dry Toilet)


Practical Action works together with some of the world's poorest people throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America to help lift themselves out of poverty. Over the past forty years, they have worked with communities to develop a wide range of innovative and practical solutions to change people's lives for the better. And they’ve done it by following a unique approach to development: they don't start with technology, but with people. The tools may be simple or sophisticated, but to provide long-term, appropriate and practical answers, they must be firmly in the hands of local people: people who shape technology and control it for themselves.

Practical Presents

Sounds a little disconcerting, but the technology behind this dry toilet is amazing; you can read more about it here. For about $63.00 you can gift an Eco Loo to Zimbabwe. An Eco Loo is a toilet solution that is affordable, sustainable, odor-free, and maintenance-free, consumes no energy nor water, and the end product is fertilizer. It’s biological and needs no further investment for end users, nor any expenses related to energy, water, transport, treatment or any other costs.

These portable, dry toilets prevent water sources from becoming contaminated and bring vital sanitation to thousands of deprived people.

For about $63 you can help stop the spread of deadly diseases like cholera and dysentery.


Give a Girl a School Uniform and Shoes


In Africa, over twenty-four million girls do not attend primary school, and boys outnumber girls in school attendance by at least 8 percent.  And of those girls who do enroll, 9 percent more of them drop out before the end of the sixth grade than boys. Education can reverse the course of a girl’s life. It can change the course of a community. It can reshape a country. But sadly, there are over 17 million girls worldwide who are never expected to attend school.

World of Children

At the age of 12, Mary Grace Henry became determined to change the life of one underprivileged girl by funding her education. She started by teaching herself how to make reversible headbands with a plan to sell them at her school’s bookstore, using 100% of the profits to send a girl living in extreme poverty to school. Soon, one girl turned into many more and Reverse the Course was born, a successful social business that has sold over 14,000 hair accessories and funded the education of girls in Kenya, Uganda, Paraguay and Haiti. Without Mary Grace’s support, these girls would not have been able to attend school.

Your support will help fund a girl in Sub-Saharan Africa in Mary Grace’s program, supporting her with tuition, books, uniforms, shoes and school supplies. Not only do girls deserve an education, they deserve to look their best. A gift of $50. Is enough to buy a school uniform and shoes for one girl in need.

Sita Monti for LivAfrika 

This is just a start!  There are so many ways to donate to people in need and I wanted to show you that you don’t have to be rich by American standards to help even one person in Africa.  This is what I believe and why I founded LivAfrika four years ago. I know many of you have been so supportive and encouraging of all my efforts – to give 100% of my profit back to the women and children of Africa.  My list here is meant to give some details about other organizations I have run across in my research and thought I would share with you all the good things other folks are doing to help out in Africa.

Thank you for your support of LivAfrika and in my effort to give 100% of my profits back to the women and children of Africa. Your support and encouragement has meant all the difference in starting my new business and your purchases through LivAfrika makes a difference – I have seen it with my own two eyes. Thanks to all the many folks trying to make a difference!

Warm regards,

Sita Monti

Trekking in Kibera for Bone and Horn

I’m not sure what drew me to Kenya initially. Maybe it was seeing the movie Out of Africa with Meryl Streep that romanticized the life of Karen Von Blixen.  Or maybe it was watching life in the African bush on that old TV show, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom as a child.  Or maybe it was simply my never-ending curiosity and wanderlust that drew me to Kenya. Either way, I knew I would go there some day.





Well the day finally came when allure and opportunity came together. I have been known to ignore the sometimes-exaggerated concerns of many tourists and trek into areas in Africa that are declared “dangerous” to some.

But despite these fears by others, this is exactly what I did.  I always simply asked myself, “Where is your sense of adventure?” Honestly, though I am always cautious, my experience on the continent has been nothing but positive.

Life in Kenya

One of the most meaningful elements of what I do is spending time with our artisans in Africa. It is when I feel the happiest – being a part of their lives and hearing their stories firsthand. This is what motivates me and reminds me why I’m doing this work in the first place.  And it is their stories that I want to share with you.

I get excited when I tell the stories of these artisans but I’d much rather you see it for yourself. It is why I am dedicated to sharing my personal photos and videos so you can travel with me.  My 2nd video, shot in Kibera, is now complete. Kibera, housed on the outskirts of Nairobi, is known for its extreme poverty; it’s Africa’s largest slum and one of the biggest slums in the world. There are approximately 2.5 million people in about 200 settlements, making up about 60% of Nairobi’s population but taking up only about 6% of the land. 

The Kenyan government owns most all of the land so 90% of the people living in Kibera are tenants with no rights.  Only about 20% of Kibera has electricity and until recently it had no running water. There are no clinics or hospitals, just charity organizations with makeshift facilities. The unemployment in this area is a staggering 50%, so the teaching of various skills is critical and that’s why workshops like Kazuri Ceramics (See my previous blog here) are so important to the African women living in extreme poverty.

I’ll admit I had some trepidation traveling to a country I had never been, to a city of roughly 5 million, and of course, I would be traveling by myself.  I understood this would not be an easy journey for me physically, emotionally, or spiritually due to the conditions in places like Kibera that is ravaged by poverty and disease.  But it is right there that I chose to spend a week working directly with these extremely talented artisans who shape beautiful jewelry and home decor from discarded cow bone and cow horn.

Friends and Artisans in Kibera

In the midst of these rambling shacks and narrow passages that carry the waste out to the street, I met Samwell and Wilkister, Victor and Bernard, and a host of other artisans eking out a living in this massive slum.  I was very excited about meeting and collaborating with them to bring their work to video. It is the back-stories of these artists that I most want to share with you.


Kenya is a diverse culture made up of many different ethnic groups such as the Kikuyu 22%, Luhva 14%, Luo 13%, Kalenjin 12%, Kamba 11%, Kisii 6%, Meru 6%, other African 15%, and non-African 1%. These various ethnic groups typically speak their native language within their own communities, but the two official languages are English and Swahili. Like South Africa, it was very easy for me to communicate with the artisans since English is so widely spoken.

Turning Trash into Treasures

Often we eat meat, drink milk, and wear leather without a thought about the scraps that remain at the butcher.  In Kibera, artists like Wilkister (pictured above) use the left over bones and horns from cattle to make beautiful jewelry and other home décor items. They will purchase these bones from the slaughterhouse for just a few dollars and then carefully craft them into works of art.


Through a careful selection process, the ideal bones are selected and brought back to the workshops in Kibera.  Initially the bones are washed in bleach to whiten them and to remove all impurities.  


Next the bones are cut into small usable pieces and then shaped with the use of a steel blade.   A small drill is used at times to pierce the bone for final use in jewelry.

Depending on the desired outcome, the object will be left a simple plain white, dyed dark brown or given a batik pattern.  Painting liquid candle wax onto the bone, submerging it in dye and then removing the wax, makes this batik pattern.

Lastly, the bone will be sanded and polished before it is assembled into the final product.  This work helps to promote dignity in their society and to empower them economically. The sale of their handcrafts will help keep their children in school, put food on the table and provide a place to call home.


Please take a moment to walk with me and see how proud they are of their incredible handiwork by watching the video here (coming soon!).

These items from Kibera can be purchased from LivAfrika.com or by visiting our store at 3403 South MacDill Ave, Tampa, FL 33929.

To celebrate Father’s Day, LivAfrika is showcasing their work and serving up Tusker beer on Sat. June 20th here at our South Tampa location.  We have men’s fishing shirts, bottle openers, baseball caps and even some tasty Biltong in stock, so make a point to come by ….. sip some beer and shop for Dad.




June 16, 2015 by Sita Monti

LivAfrika Empowers Women, Even Here at Home

A short while ago, I was on the hunt for any employer that would give me a chance – being 17 and still in high school, I wasn’t qualified for most job opportunities here in Tampa’s competitive and experienced job market. Sita Monti, the owner of LivAfrika, is a close friend of my mom’s and I knew she took frequent trips to South Africa and was in need of extra help. My mom explained that Sita needed someone to work part-time at her store, which is only a few minutes away from my house. I was both thankful and excited when Sita called me up and asked if I was interested in helping her out at her shop.


LivAfrika is, in a word – exotic. It’s filled with beautiful, Fair Trade items made of everything from Czech glass beads to Ostrich eggshells. There’s beaded necklaces made from recycled paper magazine strips, chicken statues crafted from old plastic bags, and even jewelry created from the leftover horn and bone of cows. All of the merchandise is hand crafted and meticulously made by women many of whom are suffering with HIV/AIDS in South Africa, Swaziland, Kenya, and Sudan. Though a majority is made in South Africa, all of the items for sale are Fair Trade produced - this means there are strict guidelines in place to ensure the artisans are not exploited in any way, they are paid a fair wage, and many other rules that must be followed to be certified Fair Trade.


Through the trust of co-operatives such as churches, AIDS clinics, non-profits, and NGO’s, these women are given the opportunity to work fair labor for fair pay, something that isn’t always available overseas.

  • Moderate poverty levels in South Africa are at 45.5% and extreme poverty is at 20.2%. Approximately 5,800,000 people in South Africa live with HIV/AIDS.
  • 3,400,000 women have HIV/AIDS along with 410,000 children.

Can you imagine how helpful any type of income is to these women, and their families?

It’s easy to breeze through the statistics, but they are staggeringly real. Fully 5.6% of children are married by the age of eighteen, along with 0.8% of children being married by the age of fifteen. Three women in South Africa are killed on a daily basis and even more horrifying is the fact that every 8 hours a woman is killed by her intimate partner. While homicide rates are decreasing, domestic violence crimes and reported rapes have increased. Thirty-seven percent of men in Gauteng Province have admitted to raping a woman at least once. An estimated number of over 30% of girls will have been raped by the time they’re eighteen.

Sita exposed me to the lives of these women and their families in South Africa and we both believe it’s important to be aware of what’s going on in the world and have an understanding of the differences in lifestyles of various countries.

That doesn’t mean you have to feel guilty for taking a hot shower every day or for drinking pricey, corporate brand coffee in the morning. It means taking the initiative not to turn a blind eye towards the bad in the world, even though you’re privileged enough to not have to think about it.

I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by kindhearted people who want to make the world a better place for others. Sita is one of those people. She’s someone who I truly believe has a passion for empowering these women artisans in Africa. That’s where LivAfrika’s roots are planted - Giving women the opportunity to better themselves.

My first job is turning into the adventure of a lifetime…

By Ryanne Eppard




May 28, 2015 by Sita Monti

Discovering Ceramics on the Outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya

It seems like just last week that I flew home from my last trek to Africa, but it’s been a few months already! Back in September 2014, right before the craziness of the holiday season here in Tampa, I took off on another adventure to Africa and in addition to South Africa and surrounding areas - this trip included Kenya!

I had been dreaming about a Kenya adventure for years, but on this visit I had to make a choice; listen to the US State Department warnings about the risks for Americans traveling to Kenya, or ignore those warnings and trust that my business contacts in Nairobi would steer me in the right direction, which would help me to pursue my goals but not be careless. I decided to go after my dreams and hope for the best, as is my nature.

Dreaming of bone & horn, and beads

There are several reasons I ignored the good intentions of our US State Department – and these reasons are cow bone & horn, and beads.

On this trip to Africa I planned to explore the cow bone & horn jewelry making process, which is painstaking and includes many detailed steps and many artisans working together. I had heard about this work in Kenya and stories about the artisans who create this type of jewelry and home décor so I was excited about possibly collaborating with them. It just so happens that some of the highest quality products come from workshops located in what is agreed to be the largest slum in Africa, and one of the largest in the world; Kibera.

My trip to Kibera turned out to be exciting, challenging, and rewarding. You can read all about it and watch a video here (Coming Soon!)...

Kenya and Kazuri Ceramics

Along with the cow bone & horn, Kenya is also home to Kazuri Ceramics; a workshop on the outskirts of Nairobi where 300+ women artisans make one of kind, handmade ceramic beads in colors and hues that are so intense they almost hurt the eyes. Kazuri means “small and beautiful” in Swahili.

Kenya is home to the quintessential African landscape; it has an abundance of arid grasslands and large wildlife parks and also boasts tropical beaches, coral reefs, and ancient cities. Artisans in Kenya create jewelry from recycled materials and some of the most beautiful pieces I’ve seen are made of ceramic beads.

Kazuri began as a small workshop experimenting with making handmade beads and it is located in what used to be part of the Karen Blixen Estate (most of you will know this from the movie, “Out of Africa”). It started with two women and the desire to provide opportunity for women in and around Nairobi. Each piece is handmade and hand painted in an extensive range of colors and styles.

Their mission at Kazuri is to provide and sustain employment opportunities for disadvantaged members of Kenyan society.

With assurances from my contacts that Kazuri is vigilant about Fair Trade and the integrity of safe and fair commerce, we piled into the SUV early in the morning and headed to the outskirts of Nairobi to find the workshop.

I learned years ago that it does no good to complain or have high expectations about some of the work I do and some of the places I get to experience on my adventures. When the going gets uncomfortable, I find peace and solace thinking of the people I haven’t met yet and how I am grateful that I can still help in small ways. Small, beautiful ways.

Time passed by that morning marked with dust and grey, yellow bush, stone, and trees.

After an uneventful hour or so, we ambled down a tight dirt road and pulled up to the entrance of Kazuri. There were several buildings, each for different stages of the process, one for drying, one for molding, one for painting, etc. I counted at least 5 buildings and although at any one time there are over 300 women working at Kazuri, it was quiet and peaceful surrounded by acacia trees and lush vegetation.

The magic of Kazuri

Within minutes of meeting the managers, who it turns out were expecting us!, a friendly and chatty representative was guiding us gently through each step in the ceramics-making process.

As with most of the artisans I work with in Africa, the artisans in Kazuri are mostly mothers trying to send their children to school.  Others are grandmothers raising AIDS orphans and are putting food on the table with their meager earnings. A small percentage are handicapped and have little opportunity in the general work force, so having found a safe environment where they can earn a living and support themselves and their families is a precious situation.

Over 200 women gather daily to work side-by-side in one of several large, open buildings. At times there is music playing, other times the women can be heard singing, and still other times it is so quiet you can hear the wind through the rafters. I was struck by how calming it is to hear the low hum of their voices and the sound of the birds through the open windows. I could easily understand how Kazuri could be a sanctuary of sorts from the world outside these walls. No wonder these women spend their days here creating these one of a kind pieces of art with warm smiles on their faces.

The Kazuri process

With all the smiling and humming, I was surprised to learn that Kazuri exports to over 20 countries and produces over 5 million beads per year. Our representative was happy to take us through the entire bead making process:

Step 1: Making the clay.

First local clay, talc, and water are mixed in large tanks and then pushed through cloth presses to produce moldable clay. This step of the process takes approximately a week to complete.


Step 2: Creating the bead.

The women use a mold to create the exact size of the bead. Then they meticulously shape and buff each bead into the exact form before they are laid out in the African sun to dry. The beads will dry in the sun for approximately 5 hours or longer if needed.

Step 3: Glazing the bead.

Next, the beads are fired in a kiln at 1000 degrees centigrade for 8 hours and then delivered to the main bead store where they are hand counted, measured and sorted.

Step 4: Painting the bead.

A glaze is made from scratch and developed into beautiful hues that are then applied to the beads. Each bead is hand painted with distinct patterns and colors, which will later be assembled into individual pieces of jewelry. The beads are placed on a metal wires and allowed to air dry for an hour and then moved into the kiln for a second firing. After an additional 8 hours in the kiln at 1000 degrees centigrade, the ceramic beads are complete.

The finished glazed beads are then counted and graded for quality control. The women who create the beautiful jewelry start with a specific pattern, a measuring tape and the unique ceramic beads. After assembly and another quality control check, the precious Kazuri jewelry is ready for market.

After I completed my tour I asked if I could spend some time with the women. As with all of the women I meet on my adventures, they were warm and welcoming, attentive and appreciative of a stranger’s attention to their work. I took time to talk with them and they helped me pick a collection of necklaces I felt would appeal to my customers at LivAfrika.com.

Looking back on my adventure to Kazuri, although I did ultimately accomplish the goals I came to Kenya to achieve - the discovery of Kazuri was joyful and perhaps one of the best things to come out of my visit to Kenya.

To see the gorgeous beads made at Kazuri that have made their way back to all of us here in the USA, visit my Kazuri ceramic beads page on LivAfrika.



January 14, 2015 by Sita Monti

Back Home from Africa


I'm baaaaaack!

After 3 hectic, but incredibly fulfilling and adventurous weeks in Africa, I returned home to realize we are only 65 days away from Christmas. Yikes! The good news is I am now stocked up for the holiday season with beautiful ornaments, wire reindeer, recycled plastic trees and much more. The postal strike finally ended in South Africa after a month, so the remaining items I discovered and purchased for the shop and website are now on their way. 

The trip was particularly meaningful for a variety of reasons. First, I was able to spend quality time with our mission partners, Phakamisa, in Pinetown, South Africa, which is always a source of strength and renewal for me. I was able to personally assist them by delivering new underwear for the children in the township and new eye glasses for the grandmothers (Gogo's). Thanks to everyone who donated! 

Lots of tots with their new underwear. They were so happy to have them
that they were jumping all around! I love those smiles.

Next, I discovered the women of Kazuri in Nairobi, Kenya. I spent time learning how they make their exquisite ceramic jewelry and I am happy to announce that this one of a kind jewelry is now in stock at LivAfrika. The ceramic beads that Kazuri is known for are each individually shaped by one of the 350+ Kazuri women, the beads are then polished and kiln fired, painted and then kiln fired again before being used in necklaces and other types of jewelry.

Two of the 350+ women of Kazuri, who create exquisite ceramic jewelry. These beautiful
hand painted necklaces are now available in LivAfrika.

And finally, I met the most amazing artists working in Kibera, which is the largest slum in Africa. From discarded cow bone and horn, they tediously handcraft a wide range of items from bowls to utensils to key rings! I am always in awe of their ability to recycle and their ingenuity in crafting quality items from things that we here in the US would simply throw away.

Wilkister and I in her workshop in Kibera. Her work sculpting cow horn is supporting
her entire family of 5 children after her husband died of AIDs.  

So, my three week trip was brimming with encouragement in the face of despair, hope in the face of destitution, and the spiritual satisfaction that comes from making personal connections and sharing the common bond of simply being human, and alive, and grateful, with others. During this holiday season, please take a few moments to reflect about how you too can have a positive impact on others around the world, like I mentioned in my last post, the needs are great but also small.

Stop in and say hello at my shop, LivAfrika, anytime Tue - Fri 10-6 and Saturdays 10-4 or shop from the comfort of your home at my newly updated site, via LivAfrika.com


Trek with Sita and LivAfrika

Along with my adventures in Africa, this year we were at the Junior League Holiday Market Nov. 7 - 9th at the Florida State Fair Grounds in Tampa - thank you everybody who dropped by the LivAfrika booth and supported your local businesses! Many people said we had the best new booth in the show!

This is the season for open markets too - I love getting out and meeting people at these markets, especially:

  • VillageFest in Carrollwood (Sat. Nov 22nd)
  • Hyde Park Village Market (Sun. Dec. 7th).  

Also coming up, LivAfrika will be at:

  • Tampa Yacht Club (Mon. Dec. 1st),
  • Avila Country Club (Tues. Dec. 9th)
  • Hyde Park United Methodist Church Alternative Christmas Market (Sun. Dec. 7th) in the Harnish Activities Center. 

I hope to see you soon and happy holidays!


November 20, 2014 by Sita Monti

The Needs Are Great, But Also Small...

Hello, from LivAfrika! Like myself, you may be asking "How can I help those in need?" You see suffering and you want to help, perhaps you wonder, "What can can I do here in the US to help these grandmothers who are raising AIDS orphans in South Africa?"

Sometimes the problems are so overwhelming, it feels like it's impossible for just one person to make any substantial difference because the needs are SO great!

My friend and pastor, Jim Harnish, frequently recites a poem by Bonaro Overstreet named “Stubborn Ounces”. Hearing these words always brings me back to a place where my spirit realizes that no matter how small the act, I can make a difference in this world and it can be powerful.

For those of you who haven’t read it:

Stubborn Ounces
You say the efforts that I make
Will do no good;
They will never prevail
To tip the hovering scale
Where justice hangs in the balance.
I don’t think
I ever thought they would
But I am prejudiced beyond debate
In favor of my right to choose which side
Shall feel the stubborn ounces of my weight.

Jim and I traveled to South Africa many times over the last several years; leading mission teams from Hyde Park UMC. Together we shared in the experience of walking in the shoes of another, in this case, many others. We are profoundly aware that when we are able to see everything first hand, the experience becomes much more powerful.

All of us want to help, but our resources may dictate what we can do. Financially speaking, money certainly can go a long way in South Africa, where a 1/4 of the population are unemployed and living on less than $1.25 a day.

If you have the means to donate financially, then please know that every penny helps! You can donate directly at www.phakamisa.org)

But not all of us have those extra resources. So what can we do?

  • There is a group called the “Wandering Teachers” who travel out to the informal settlements and prioritize the most critical needs. They have recently asked for underwear for their preschoolers. Please feel free to donate new, size small underwear.
  • The women who create the exquisite bead work need stronger eyeglasses so donations of used or new readers are a huge help.
  • And don’t forget the power of prayer. To these grandmothers, knowing that there is someone across the globe that is specifically praying for them on a daily basis means so much to them in a personal way that is difficult to explain. In many ways, they feel forgotten by the world and when we remember them in our daily devotions, it makes them feel loved and important. Your prayers and spiritual power gives them hope.

I will be leaving on Sunday, Sept 7th for my journey back to Africa. If you would like to donate any of these items, please drop them off at LivAfrika by the close of business Saturday, Sept 6th. And thank you for reading this blog and for all the support for the women and children of South Africa.

Watch the video below to hear my initial mission and vision for the LivAfrika Project (what is now LivAfrika was formerly, Sita's Emporium).



    October 16, 2014 by Sita Monti