I Made Your Hat - The Story of the Crochet Hat Maker Shafe Shanafe
A blog article by L.W.
Our Clothes and Their Stories
Every piece of clothing we buy has a story that connects to our own history as soon as we see and wear it for the first time. The stories that happen afterwards we know or they are not written yet, but what about the story before? And by whom was it written?
In this blog article we want to introduce you to Shafe Shanafe. A hatter from Shimena with a hopeful story.
Crochet-Hats by Shafe Shanafe
Shafe was born and raised 25 km from our workshop in the mountains of Gamo and worked in agriculture for most of his youth.
Due to the lack of fertile land and work in the region, he decided to move to Arba Minch and work as a daily wage worker in the town to make ends meet. After a dramatic and impactful conflict with an employer, Shafe was sent to a correctional facility at a young age. But when one door closes, another opens – even in prison, a place where some doors remain closed forever.
Shafe’s misfortune later turned into an opportunity when he learned how to make hats in a reintegration program. During the reintegration process, Shimena also became aware of the ambitious young man, who worked hard on himself and was eager to embark on a new path. After his prison sentence was shortened through good behavior and with the prospect of a permanent job at Shimena, Shanafe was released.
Shafe Shanafe working on a hat.
Shafe has been working at Shimena for several years now and his story has also found a happy ending in his personal life through a happy marriage and a child.
Shanafe’s successful re-socialization process also led to greater trust in the reintegration of offenders into society by both the Department of Corrections, prison inmates, and potential employers in the region.
All Stories about Shimena
Over the last three years, we have seen community trust and respect grow alongside economic security. 60 % of the women in our raw material production and processing as well as our employees are women.
Traditionally, men are the ones who take on weaving and the production of textiles and garments as a task. Shimena wants to change these structures and also enables women to learn this ancient weaving culture.
The concept of ‘Natural Dyes’ is by no means a new one and refers to all the dyes derived from the natural sources.
Ethiopia has a long tradition of using natural sources for textile coloration, and Shimena wants to maintain and develop this ancient knowledge.
Everything starts with the procurement of the cotton; just like the dyes and almost every other raw materials, this is sourced from the local area around Abra Minch.
The challenge that I observed from the artisans is they used to spend all their earnings they got from weaving without any saving.
The enterprise also has helped to save the traditional skill transformation and preserve the art of weaving by developing modern use and upgrading the products.