Kennedy ‘Ojiko’ Odundo

from Kibera – Age 28

Sometimes in his sleep, Ojiko dreams of jewelry designs. In the morning when he wakes up, he translates these dreams into pieces of jewelry. Other times, when watching an Indian or a Nigerian movie, he will be drawn by an element of what he is watching, inspiration that he then incorporates into his work.

Ojiko hails from Migori County in Nyanza Province.  Like many others, he came to Nairobi to find work, starting to create jewelry in 2005. A year later, he transitioned to working using brass.

Today, as he lives and works alone in Kibera, he uses his income to support his wife who is currently in university in Kisumu. He loves the challenges of jewelry-making because it enables him to make enough to support himself and his wife. But beyond that, he is driven by the passion that he has for his work.

Ojiko’s biggest dream is not to simply to make an income , but to work only with people who share his core values of honesty and straightforwardness.

Elijah Omadau

Dagoretti Market – Age 27

In a different life, Elijah might have stayed in his home village, working as a digger or a motorcycle driver.

In this one, however, he made the move to Nairobi in hopes of better supporting his family – 1 brother and 3 sisters, and fell upon jewelry making by chance. Today, Elijah has grown to love the work as a way to exercise his creative muscles while making an income.

To him, the best part of this work is designing the jewelry and creating beauty with his hands: “The most beautiful part of my work [is that] I enjoy everything that I make… especially the earrings and bangles.”

And as for the most difficult part of his work? The challenge of translating designs from how he envisions them in his mind to a physical creation which can sometimes be time-consuming. A perfectionist of sorts, Elijah will often re-make a design several times if it does not match the vision he had for it at the beginning.

With the income from his jewelry, Elijah supports his family, ensuring that his young brothers and sisters have the chance to go to school.