Ben and Katy Ray, Tanzania
Showing God’s love and changing attitudes in the community through providing training and employment for disabled people
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In Tanzania, people with disabilities are often considered to be a burden or even a curse. People think that nothing can be done for them. They are often left uneducated and told that the best chance they have is to beg on the streets. The Neema Crafts Centre was set up to change people’s perceptions of disability and to provide high quality training and employment to our disabled artisans, chefs and technicians.
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Ben and Katy’s story
As directors of Neema Crafts our job is to ensure the many facets of the centre (seven different crafts workshops, shop, cafe, conference room and guesthouse) are all on track and that our products and services are attracting customers and promoting the work of people with disabilities. We also oversee various other projects including the entrepreneurship training course, tailoring training, computer and English teaching, mobility access and our latest house building project for our staff.
Ever since a short term trip to Tanzania as an 18-year- old, Ben always felt a calling back to East Africa. During his undergraduate years, God lead him to both South Africa with YWAM and to Kenya with another mission team. Through these experiences, the Lord grew in him a vision for setting up a training centre that would employ people on the margins of their community and that would be self-sustaining by selling what it produced. After graduating with a degree in product design engineering he spent six months volunteering in Tanzania to confirm his calling. He then trained as a design and technology teacher in the UK where he worked for five years.
Katy’s journey to mission began with a five-month gap year in Tanzania in 2002. After this experience she changed her university plans and re-applied to study art. She was eager to see God use her artistic skills, but she had no idea what that might look like. After three years of studying textiles, she set up her own business selling handmade interior accessories, while working as an artist in residence at Monkton Combe School, where Ben was teaching. During this time God began to speak to us both about using our skills in Tanzania and specifically at Neema Crafts.
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