Poorer children in Zambia are often taught at an early age to stitch intricate mats from dried banana leaves, elephant grass, and corn husks. Since the mats were created from “throw-away” material, kids normally gave up the craft by about 12-14 years of age when boys would be old enough to work out in the fields.
The Banana Leaf Art of Zambia (BLAZ) project has been working to change the concept and introduce these cultural treasures to the world. When children from Zambia come to America to show their handiwork, they often receive praise and money. All for what has always been considered “play” for kids. They head home with a much higher self-esteem and confidence in their ability to perform in school and to help others do the same. In fact, one student (a school drop out for lack of the$45 annual tuition) came to the United States as a 12 year old for a six week tour and has just won a full scholarship for a pre-med university program in Volgograd, Russia!
Come check out these fine handicrafts and learn how bananas can truly change lives! And learn more about the BLAZ project at www.blazproject.org.