When Jackie Abrams stumbled upon the WARP booth at Convergence, the biannual conference of the Handweaver’s Guild of America, she knew she had found her tribe. She joined WARP right away. A contemporary basket weaver, Jackie appreciated the value of working with your hands. “My first trip to Ghana, Africa, was with a Cross Cultural Collaborative. I was entranced, but I wanted to be more than a tourist. My daughter was in the Peace Corps in Nambia. When I visited her, I was delighted to see that Africa was a basket makers paradise.”
It was not long after that that Cheryl Musch, WARP’s administrator at the time, was going through the directory looking for someone to recommend to SERRV to help with project evaluation in Africa. “It doesn’t hurt that my last name starts with ‘A’ “, said Jackie, who was thrilled when Cheryl got in touch.
That connection opened an entire world for Jackie. Since that time, she has traveled to Africa many times, mostly in Ghana. Jackie is interested in using reclaimed materials in her own work. In Ghana, plastic bags litter the countryside. Jackie experimented with different craft techniques and found that crochet was an excellent way to use this abundant resource. “The bags were primarily black, which is unusual in the United States. For one project we created totes made from the uniquely colored bags.”
Through WARP Jackie is able to commune others that share the same kind of passion for working with with women where craft work is a way to provide for their families. “Not every program works, with each experience I learn a little bit more about what it takes to be successful—strong in-country leadership, connections to markets, and quality control, are all vital.”
Jackie is now on the board of WARP. “The small amount I pay every year for this extraordinary organization is worth every penny.”
To read more about Jackie’s work as a consultant visit her website. To purchase your own Ghanian basket and read about one of the projects Jackie worked on with SERRV, click here. To join WARP or renew your membership, visit our website.