With a fresh blanket of snow falling on Essex and winter feeling fluffy and festive at last, it’s tempting to drift into holiday myopia.
Hearth heat. Steam swirling grog. Caroling and snowshoeing and cross-country skiing…
Racey Henderson is rarely content to merely mull and mellow.
But Racey Henderson — Essex’s one and only Reber Rock Farmer slash Africa-centric international development professional — is rarely content to merely mull and mellow. Not for long at least.
I had the pleasure of catching up with Racey during Christmas in Essex, and she filled me in on her newest brainchild, Ndara.
This creative, cross-continental initiative intends to reframe global understanding of the Central African Republic through artisanal creativity and the inspiring narratives woven into each colorful bathrobe, rug, lampshade, and placemat.
If you were to research the Central African Republic you would find miles and miles of reports, articles and studies on the ongoing war in the country. If you were to go back in history to look for information, you would mostly find the same narrative – war, strife, suffering. Or, you would find little to no narrative at all. (Source: www.ndaratibeafrika.com)
Racey Henderson and Ndara co-founder Charlotte Mararv both understand firsthand that “the atrocities of war and the horrific human suffering” in the Central African Republic are real and devastating. But they believe in a less one dimensional, more nuanced, and more inclusive narrative.
With Ndara Racey and Charlotte are humanizing perceptions of the CAR while nurturing the people and communities who represent one of the greatest hopes for the nation’s future.
Ndara will tell the world another story about Central Africans. We will tell you the stories of the men and women who are skilled in survival against all odds, who are resilient. People who, in the face of violence and poverty and with great pride and joy, create communities, families and beautiful handmade products.
Ndara is a company that will strive to make these products and stories available to you wherever you are, so that you too can begin to tell a story of hope and perseverance in CAR. (Source: www.ndaratibeafrika.com)
Perseverance, resilience, pride, and hope. Having witnessed Reber Rock Farm’s 2016 barn fire recovery, I know that Racey is well equipped to deliver on her ambitious promise.
But Ndara’s vision exceeds the celebratory showcasing of creative Central Africans’ handcrafts. The enterprise intends to incubate and empower meaningful and enduring social change.
Through trade, Ndara creates social and economic empowerment. We build relationships, train entrepreneurs, expand markets and promote craft traditions. We believe that the power to change one’s circumstances starts with independence and self-reliance. (Source: www.ndaratibeafrika.com)
Essex residents have witnessed Racey’s skill and commitment to collaborative, nurturing mentorship at Reber Rock Farm for over five years. So it comes with little surprise (but a great deal of admiration and respect) that Racey has now begun to merge her local and global aspirations. And I imagine that all who know her are eager to support her new startup and to celebrate her future accomplishments.