It all started with a simple Hello!
Our Elimu Girls Founder, Cindy Rodriguez, carries the message of the Elimu Girl wherever she goes! During her trip to Oaxaca Mexico, she met the Tea Collection creative team, a group of international fashion designers from San Francisco, with whom she shared the Elimu Girls story. They were inspired to engage by including Elimu’s Pendo Dolls in their fashion line for 2024.

In October this year, the Tea Collection team visited us in Kenya, Malindi, and spent three intense days with the Elimu Girls in training and some of the alumni.

“We were inspired to come to Malindi to help the girls build a skillset around making doll dresses and help them market to the US audience.”

During their trip, we introduced these fashion designers to the other projects we run at Elimu. We visited the local markets for fabric shopping which gave them a taste of local designs, prints, and textures. They also got to interact with a local fashion designer who is a friend of Elimu Girls, for a first-hand experience of the fashion and design space in Malindi.

“The sewing machine connects us, spreading the Pendo magic to the whole world.”

It was most exciting to see the Tea Collection team engage with the Elimu Girls. The connectedness of purpose was so evident. They were keen to share the knowledge they have gained over time in the fashion industry, as well as their personal stories and what motivates them to keep going.

One thing they made clear to the girls was their power to create new designs unique to them. This lesson was taught during a block printing session in our Elimu Resource Centre. For the first time, the Elimu Girls and our staff worked on creating designs that they would then print on fabric. These designs would inspire the prints for the Tea Collection Kenyan line in 2024. It was such a stupefying experience for us! One of the girls shared this about her experience;

“All my life, I never really believed that I can create something like this that will be my own! All the shapes I see on materials are created like this? I am so excited to have realized this. Now beyond sewing, I know I can create patterns that will be unique to my business.”

This visit aroused the interest of local media stations who came to see for themselves what we were up to. In an interview, our founders, Nina Chung and Cindy Rodriguez explained to the media the significance of the work we do at Elimu; fostering confidence in the girls and building a support system for them in their entrepreneurial journey.

By the end of the visit, we were awestruck and inspired to keep going. We felt encouraged to take the Elimu Girls project global. With this inspiration and shared hope, we move ahead. One Pendo doll at a time, spreading the Pendo magic to the whole world.

Thank you, Tea Collection, creative team; Marjorie, Nicole, and Emily. And to the bigger Tea Collection family.


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Elimu empowers learners to increase academic and digital literacy, improve school retention and encourage self-sustainability through employment planning and entrepreneurship. 

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