Brama Town is a small, beautiful village with a population of around one thousand people, located about 30km south of Freetown. It is a community of basket weavers who run a small stall by the main highway. With a total of 30 weavers, they make a small but close-knit team. Samuel Walker Mansaray is the village chief and the head of the Brama basket weavers’ group. Samuel was taught weaving by his brother-in-law and had the idea of bringing weaving to the community. The different tasks of the weaving process are shared within the team, and the weaving is done gradually.
Upon discovering their basket stall in 2017, Aurora Foundation initially ordered 40 baskets. The work was shared amongst the people of the village and completed within two days. We would have been happy to wait around longer to absorb more of the aura that Brama Town exudes through its incredible community spirit. Today, many youth participate in this industry, providing the community with a substantial source of income in addition to their work in small-scale vegetable production and other economic activities.
Lettie Stuart Pottery
Lettie Stuart Pottery is a unique place in Sierra Leone and all of West Africa, as it is one of the few places capable of producing high-fired pottery. It was founded in 2008 by the Sierra Leone Adult Education Association (SLADEA) and named after Dr. Lettie Stuart, the founder of SLADEA. It was a three-year training course established to help adults and youth without formal education acquire the necessary skills to be employed as potters.
Among the students that graduated were Brima Koroma, Mohamed A Sesay, and Fatmata Lakoh, and they were expected to run the facility after the training course was completed. However, with little experience running a facility and no substantial training, the center slowly deteriorated, and little funds were gathered to maintain it.
In 2018 Aurora Foundation began working in partnership with the center, starting with center improvements in their infrastructure and equipment. As well, a new 18-month training program was established to recruit and train more potters. Today Aurora Foundation is still supporting the center to improve equipment and the surroundings to create a better work environment for the employees and to enable higher production levels.
Lumley Arts and Crafts Market
The Lumley Arts and Crafts Market is a collection of jewelry, textile, and woodworking artisans. Located near Freetown’s iconic Lumley-Aberdeen beach, the Arts and Crafts Market serves a stream of tourists who purchase items that symbolize their travels to Sierra Leone.
Aurora Foundation began working with some of the artisans from the market in 2018, designing unique jewelry pieces and hair accessories from scrap cotton materials. Since then, Aurora Foundation has continued its partnership with this lively and talented group of artisans to produce various textile products. For many artisans, relying on unpredictable tourism flows, producing Sweet Salone products provides them with a more stable income to support significant livelihood improvements, including buying land, building homes, and financing a university education.
Ibrahim Kallon, originally from Freetown, is a textile weaver. At the age of 12, Ibrahim’s grandfather insisted that young Ibrahim join him every day after school and assist him in the practice of weaving. While he did not see the benefits of learning this traditional skill at that age, he could not be more grateful today for his grandfather’s persistence. Unlike many of his peers, he has the means to earn an income.
Today Ibrahim Kallon can be found weaving in a small building adjacent to the Lumley Arts and Crafts Market, but only on his days off from university.
Foday Thoronka will always brighten up your day with a smile. He is a calm, patient, and skillful tailor who has been working for both Aurora Foundation and the employees of Aurora Foundation personally since 2017. Foday is married, has one daughter and three young sons, and lives in Murray Town. Each dress sold represents another brick in Foday’s house. While Foday used to live in his one-room workplace with his family, he now managed to build his own house next to his workplace. Step by step, his home is taking shape, and he is planning a more suitable tailoring office.
Mariatu is a textile weaver and a mother of four children, and she is based in Grafton. There she has her weaver loom, and she is a part of a community of women all making Kontri Kloth that they sell in Big Market, Freetown. She is the main weaver for all the Green Giraffe products.
Alusine is a tailor with grand ambitions and is currently also attending University. He has been the leading tailor for the Green Giraffe products, and that is how he has been able to finance his university education.
The Largo Creation Group
The Largo Creations group is a small artisan collective based in the village of Largo Kissinima, a village nearby Bo in the Southern province of Sierra Leone. The artisans in this group use traditional knowledge to dye cotton and raffia using locally-foraged materials. Lucy Parmoi, a village elder, was trained by her parents in these skills. Today, Lucy works with a group of five women in the village to pass along this longstanding local knowledge. The schoolteachers from the village school also help in the dying process, and, as the working area is just beside the school building, they use it as an opportunity for practical lessons for the students to support their curriculum which incorporates some of the traditional crafts of Sierra Leone. James Amara, one of these teachers, was greatly inspired by his own school arts and crafts teacher. He closely studied with this teacher and came to learn many traditional crafts skills of Sierra Leone. James today serves as the head of the collective.
The Largo Creations collective does the natural dying with locally-foraged materials to dye the pure cotton used in our Sweet Salone x Hugdetta pillows and throws.