At Kitengela, nature always comes first. Just half an hour’s drive south from the dirty din of the country’s capital, Nairobi, the village is overgrown with lush plants, trees, and vines of every variety. Where she can, Nani builds around the flora instead of chopping it down, and nothing goes to waste.
Every single building, wall or pathway throughout the property – even a bridge that crosses the nearby gorge – has been built with local materials. Decorations come in the form of bottle caps, broken tile, pieces of glass, feathers, scrap iron, and anything else that someone might throw away as garbage. Kitengela’s founders aren’t joking when they say everything is recycled.
Once a tented homestead on the Masaai plains far from any urban center, the facility has expanded into a sprawling village that employs roughly 60 people at any time. Not only does Nani teach local Kenyans a valuable skill that allows them to lift themselves out of abject poverty, but hundreds of their family members benefit by extension. Their glass art is listed for sale alongside her own internationally acclaimed pieces.