Amani began in 1996 with four refugee women sewing placemats together in Nairobi, Kenya. One of those was American missionary, Becky Chinchen, who experienced refugee life when she and her family went into exile in Ivory Coast while fleeing the civil war in Liberia. After many long years of waiting for peace negotiations to hold among the warlords of Liberia Becky received the news that her home and earthly belongings had been lost to rebels in the region. All hope was lost of returning to Liberia.
In 1995, Becky and her family, along with many other refugees, found themselves in Kenya known at that time as an “island of peace”. Thousands of people were fleeing from the neighboring warring countries of Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Uganda, Sudan and Somalia to the country of Kenya to find safety and refugee.
After experiencing the humiliation and hopelessness of refugee life Becky saw the need to affirm the dignity and worth of women around her. Along with 3 other refugee women, Amani ya Juu, “Peace from Above” was birthed. Skills in stitching, a love of African textiles, an eye for beauty, and a passion for spreading God’s peace converged. Through need, talent and desire Amani ya Juu was brought to life.
With a personal loan of $500, the women began making placemats in Becky’s home in Nairobi, selling them in hotels and shops around the city of Nairobi.
Becky saw great potential in this creative practice of doing business with the purpose of helping others find healing and restoration. Amani came into her own as a social economic enterprise, designed to bring healing and hope among the broken and economically challenged in society.
The Amani center in Nairobi has grown over the years into a thriving oasis in a bustling city. It now boasts a beautiful production building, a welcoming shop, and a spacious garden cafe. Many people who visit Amani Kenya witness first hand the powerful experience of God’s peace.