Karine Ardault


Karine Ardault
November 14, 2010
Filed in: photostories

Shanga's motto

Kindness is a language that blind people see and deaf people hear.

Signature Shanga necklaces

in 2006, Saskia Rechsteiner, the founder of Shanga, decided to make necklaces from fabric and beads as christmas presents for her friends.

Signature Shanga necklaces

Saskia was soon overwhelmed by demand for these necklaces and decided to create Shanga. She decided to employ deaf people as workers. Since then, new design for the Shanga signature necklaces have been created.

Arrival at shanga

Through a restaurant welcoming tourists on their way to the major safari locations in northern Tanzania, Shanga shows and sells its products. At first, Shanga started at Saski's house but in 2008 Shanga moved into what is called the River House.

An employement opportunity for disabled Tanzanian.

At the end of 2010, Shanga was employing more than 30 disabled tanzanian. It is expected that the company continues to grow.

A quiet place by the river

Shanga is located in a place known as the River house conveviently located on the way out of Arusha, close to the Arusha airport (gateway to reach safari destinations by plane) on the road to the Serengeti. It is a quiet place where sofas are nicely arranged in a big outdoor space

The Shop

The shanga building houses the shop where products are sold.


Disabled people in Tanzania are very likely to not get any education as very often their families keep them home too ashamed that the public sees them. It is very rare for deaf people in Tanzania to receive education.

Shanga workshop

Shanga is currently set on a land within a coffee plantation that has exhonarated it from paying rent. This has allowed the company to growand employ more people.


Glass beads are created onsite, recyclying from glass bottles the Arusha community brings to Shanga.


Kilns have been built to facilitate work.

Work is made by hand.

molds for ornaments are created from clay.

Glass work

The ornaments and beads are created onsite from recycled materials.

Christmas stars

The Christmas ornaments are a big hit especially after an article publiched in The Guardian.


Disabled people employed by shanga can live from their work. They receive a salary and can be independant. The most creative of them also have their own designs.

Beads, beads, beads

Shanga means bead in kiswahili, the language widely spoken in Tanzania.

recycling aluminium

Old aluminium is also collected. It is then melted down into dishes, picture frames and other objects.

Creative work

new objects created from recycled aluminium are worked by hand.

original necklaces in earth tones.

Masaai know-how

A masai woman doing bead work.

Traditional beading is also used for some moder design necklaces


William, who is both deaf and physically challenged, has become Shanga's chief designer. Some creations bears his signature.


From the one necklace design at the beginning, Shanga has grown and expended its offer in the shop.

coasters and boxes in colorful beading work.

creating new beads

beads are created one by one from recycled glass

Creating beads

a new bead is created.

creating new beads

Beads are created one by one from recycled glass

working with fabric

Working with kanga fabric, a traditional and very colourful fabric to make necklaces, bags, stuff animals.

At work

Creating Christmas ornament for an expanded market. Today buyers of Shanga products can be found worldwide, not only in Arusha anymore.

Christmas ornaments

New Christmas ornaments.

providing work

providing work oportunity in a business model has proven to be more succesful than just giving away. Disabled people working at Shanga have gained skills, a regular salary and autonomy. Some of them are now teaching to younger generations and give hope to kids and their families. It is also a way for disabled persons to find their place in the Tanzanian society which is still reluctant to interact with disabled people.

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More about this Photo Story

At Shanga, you can find a workshop where you can buy creations made at the workshop in front of you. You can also stop for lunch or for a tea. Shanga is run as a commercial organization in Arusha, Tanzania and employs disabled people. All income from the Shanga workshop, restaurant and shop sales goes towards employing more disabled people. The choice of a commercial model over a charity model has proved to be a successful model, empowring people with disabilities with responsabilities and a salary.
Shanga: http://www.shanga.org

Learn more about: Karine Ardault

Karine is a full time humanitarian law/conflict and peacekeeping specialist and a photographer and artist the rest of the time.

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