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 (Photograph: Courtesy of Heshima Kenya)1/4
Photograph: Courtesy of Heshima KenyaHeshima Kenya scarf

Heshima Kenya

Pick up beautiful hand-tie-dyed scarves for the fall by Heshima Kenya.

By Jessica Herman

You can’t have too many scarves in this city, and the Maisha Collective’s tie-dyed versions warm more than just your neck. The nonprofit Heshima Kenya, headquartered in Chicago with programs based in Nairobi, was founded five years ago by two women who saw a population of refugees—at-risk girls under 18 from countries surrounding Kenya—falling through the cracks of international agencies. Their solution: a safe-shelter, case-management and girl-empowerment program with two locations in Nairobi. Through the empowerment program, the girls focus on literacy and math, and when they’re ready to prepare for a transition to re-entering the community, they join the Maisha Collective. Now 25 girls strong, the Maisha Collective teaches the girls how to tailor, tie-dye and hand-tassel scarves in addition to providing entrepreneurship training. Each scarf is named after the girl who designed it, and they’re sold in the U.S. via Etsy and at the Heshima Kenya storefront in Ravenswood. As for the money earned, it all goes back to the collective, and translates into a monthly stipend for the girls, which they use to support themselves and acquire budgeting know-how. See the scarves at the second annual Project Runway–style Heshima Fashion Challenge, taking place October 24, 6–10pm at the Bridgeport Art Center (1200 W 35th St, 773-247-3000). You can purchase tickets for $75 at

Scarves are available at and at 4917 N Damen Ave for $34–$40. Learn more at


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