Metallic Nail Polish with a nude twist- this photoshoot will convert you!

metallic nail polish photoshoot mez club

metallic nail polish photoshoot mez club

metallic nail polish photoshoot mez club

metallic nail polish photoshoot mez club

metallic nail polish photoshoot mez club

metallic nail polish photoshoot mez club

metallic nail polish photoshoot mez club

metallic nail polish photoshoot mez club

metallic nail polish photoshoot mez club

metallic nail polish photoshoot mez club

metallic nail polish photoshoot mez club

metallic nail polish photoshoot mez club

Collaborations is one of the best things about being involved with such a vibrant, creative community, and when Byron Beauty Bar approached us to be part of their Byron Bay photoshoot last week, we couldn’t say no! With the Byron Dry Bar team on hair and makeup, Drift Lab on clothing and styling, The Mez Club as location for the amazing cocktails, and Sam Clarke behind the lens, it’s no surprise the incredible photos turned out as they did. The Mez Club is one of our team’s favourites for Friday afternoon cocktails, so having our nail polish in a shoot there was an absolute dream.

The Byron Dry Bar girls did an amazing job of the hair, make-up and nails, using Cotton Candy, Gaia, Wategos, Freedom and Harmony on the gorgeous models. Metallic nail polish is having its much deserved revival, and we love how Gaia was featured in the shoot. Less statement than our other metallic nail polish colours, Gaia is the perfect nude-with-a-touch-of-shine to add some luxe to your outfit.

So where are we heading for cocktails next? Mex Club of course. With our nails painted a beautiful metallic nude too!

Models: Luna, Karni, Marina, Grace, Danielle.

Photographer: Sam Clarke

Hair, Make-up and Nails: Byron Beauty Bar

Clothing and Styling: DriftLab

Location: The Mez Club

byron shire markets mullumbimby

Byron Shire Markets- part of our weekly agenda.

byron shire marketsbyron shire markets mullumbimby

byron shire markets chillies

byron shire markets mullum farmers market

It’s no secret we, along with every other local in the area, love the Byron Shire Markets. There is a different farmers’ market, beachside market or craft market on nearly every day of the week.

The farmers are best when incorporated into your weekly routine. Perfect for purchasing your stable fruit and vegetables, as well as other delicacies including olives, dips, breads, jams and chutneys. There is almost always a local musician performing at each farmers’ market, so arrive a little bit earlier to give yourself some time to chill out with a coffee and listen, before tackling the rest of your day.

The monthly arts, crafts and food markets are held in many of the local towns in the area including Byron, Brunswick Heads and Bangalow. With clothing, accessories, gifts, plants, crystals, antiques, the monthly markets are worth taking your time meandering around. The Byron Shire Markets are a tradition ingrained in the local community, and a great opportunity for residents and visitors alike to come together and support local! Many of the incredibly successful brands and businesses in the area started out at the markets. An amazing opportunity to discover your next favourite!

One thing to take note of when visiting the Byron Shire Markets- they are almost 100% plastic bag free. So do the environment a favour and bring along your own basket or bag to carry all your fresh produce in.

Farmers Markets

Bangalow Farmers Market, Saturdays 8-11am

New Brighton Farmers Market, Tuesdays 8-11am

Byron Bay Farmers Market, Thursdays 8-11am

Mullumbimby Farmers Market, Fridays 8-11am

Monthly Arts, Craft and Food Markets

Brunswick Heads, first Saturday

Byron Bay, first Sunday

Mullumbimby, third Saturday

Bangalow, forth Sunday

You can find Sienna at the Byron and Bangalow monthly markets!

Other markets we LOVE!

Byron Artisan Market, every Saturday 4pm-9pm during summer

Lismore Car Boot Market, first Sunday

The Channon, second Sunday

Uki Markets, third Sunday

Visit the Byron Shire Council website for more information.

Rogue Lifestyle weekend for Team Sienna!

rogue lifestylerogue lifestyle

rogue lifestyle

rogue lifestyle
rogue lifestyle

 

rogue lifestyle

rogue lifestyle

rogue lifestyle

rogue lifestyle

Rogue Lifestyle- the new boutique tradeshow on the market. Disruptive, passionate and daring in delivering a new experience for retailers looking for brands and products that are different from the rest.

After a couple of huge days getting everything from Byron to Sydney, getting ourselves to Sydney and setting up once we got here, it’s finally Rogue Lifestyle time!

It’s been no mean feat, promise us! We packed up our warehouse with all our furniture, signage and stock last weekend, and drove it down with our amazing friends at iBark. On Thursday, we caught a 7am flight (Queensland time, to be fair!), and landed in Sydney midmorning with all the adrenaline pumping for a massive set up day. Many hours, even more coffees and a couple of trips to Bunnings later and here we are! We don’t mean to toot our own horn but look how the polishes just pop! (moderately obsessed with the rainbow polish triple stand display too).

The Rogue Lifestyle concept is a game changer in the trade show world, focussing on providing a smaller, boutique experience for visitors. We had an amazing first day on Friday meeting all the buyers and business owners of endless funky boutiques from all over the country, and have high hopes for our the rest of the weekend!

The Rogue Lifestyle Sydney show is taking place in The Commune, an amazing converted warehouse in Waterloo, and we can’t get enough of this space! The white brick walls, wooden floors and exposed beams in the ceiling kind of make us wish we worked here permanently. Can we have a building like this in Byron please!

As usual, we have our range set up for wholesalers to see what we are about, however different to usual, we also have a nail bar set up alongside! Everyone we meet falls in love with the nail polish as soon as they try it, and the opportunity to do so, while chatting with us about all things Sienna, is the perfect combination.

If you’re a buyer or business owner looking for something a little different for your boutique, make Rogue Lifestyle a must do on your list this weekend! You can register at the door if not already pre-registered. Find us at The Commune, 901 Bourke Street, Waterloo.

Sunrise at the Byron Bay Lighthouse, the perfect backdrop for our shoot.

sunrise at the byron bay lighthouse

sunrise at the byron bay lighthouse photoshoot

sunrise at the byron bay lighthouse photoshoot

sunrise at the byron bay lighthouse photoshoot

sunrise at the byron bay lighthouse photoshoot

It’s no secret, sunrise at the Byron Bay lighthouse is one of our favourite things about living here. What a better combination we thought, than the sunrise plus a photoshoot!

Sometimes, having a tight schedule to nudge you into action is the perfect ingredient for making amazing things happen. This is exactly what we experienced last week, and look at the result! With less than three days to plan an entire shoot and rally an amazing team to make it happen, the pressure was well and truly on. We think the images speak for themselves, but we can’t praise enough, all the creative individuals who came together.

Our beautiful model Grace was leaving Byron Bay, and we couldn’t let her leave without shooting her and her gorgeous nails! River Hazel (of Hazel and Herb) drove from Tambourine Mountain to photograph the sunrise shoot at our favourite Byron spot. The 5am call time meant we were all still waking up when we arrived, but the amazing Zoe and Alisha from Byron Dry Bar were straight into action with hair and makeup, just in time to capture the first shots at the sun peeked over the horizon. Katie from Wild Goat Events was our super-last-minute addition but wow, did she deliver! Tropical fruit platters, chia puddings, muesli cups, banana nut and seed loaf, it was never-ending! The mouth-watering vegan picnic was styled with her treasures collected from her Moroccan travels, as well as locally sourced designs. We honestly couldn’t have asked for a better team to help portray our locally created nail polish.

The lighthouse at Byron Bay is the most easterly point of Australia, and sees the first light in the morning before anywhere else. We wanted to capture the true spirit of Byron for this shoot, and what better way to do so, than watching sunrise at the Byron Bay lighthouse.

Photographer: River Hazel

Model: Grace

Hair and Make-up: Zoe and Alisha from Byron Dry Bar

Picnic & Styling: Katie, Wild Goat Events

Clothing: Rowie

byron melbourne roadtrip the blue pool bermagui sunset

Byron Bay road trip

There is something so special about an East Coast road trip. Before low-cost air travel was the norm, this trip was a classic rite-of-passage experience, and it’s still as magical as it ever was. So pack your bags, cue the playlist, jump in the car, and head north to Byron Bay from Melbourne. It’s a great opportunity to explore the Australian coastline and discover some amazing spots along the way. Start from Melbourne and follow the Princess Highway to Sydney, and then take the Pacific Highway from Sydney to Byron Bay. For the lucky ones who can take their time and meander up the East Coast, we’ve mapped out our favourite towns and beaches along the way for your Melbourne to Byron road trip adventure.

byron bay road trip
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Wilsons Promontory

 

Begin your Byron road trip with a stop off at Wilsons Promontory, 200km from Melbourne. This may not be the usual route but, once you get there, you will understand why we love it so much. The stunning national park at the southernmost tip of mainland Australia offers granite mountains, rainforest, open forests and sweeping beaches. The 3-day trail walk tours are a stunning start to your journey.

Wilsons Promontory

Lakes Entrance

 

Three and a half hours from Wilsons Promontory is Lakes Entrance. Drive down Seaview Parade for unparalleled views over the town centre, marinas, Cunninghame Arm and down Ninety Mile Beach.

lakes entrance
photo credit : visitvictoria.com

The Blue Pool

 

The Blue Pool is the next on our list. It’s located 350km from Lakes Entrance in a small town on the south coast of NSW called Bermagui. This gorgeous, natural rock pool is perfect for swimming and snorkelling. The pool is set against a backdrop of dramatic cliffs. You may have seen the photos, but this is a spot you need to see in person. A natural rock pool washed with clear ocean water, The Blue Pool is situated at the bottom of a dramatic cliff face and you just know it will look amazing in your travel snaps.

blue pool bermagui
photo credit: visitnsw.com

Jervis Bay

 

Jervis Bay is your next stop. It’s 200km north of The Blue Pool and is famous for having some of the whitest sand in the world. This natural wonderland is a haven for bottlenose dolphins, penguins and other sea creatures. A definite stop on your East Coast road trip.

Jervis Bay
photo credit: visitnsw.com

Sydney

 

Three hours later you’ll arrive in Sydney. Stop for a meal or even the night. The iconic Bondi to Bronte walk is a favourite of ours. Stretch your legs and breathe in that fresh coastal air.

Sydney city

Crescent Head

 

If you’re starting fresh the next morning, head north for five hours and stop in at the sleepy surf town, Crescent Head. Take the Big Hill Rainforest track and find yourself a spot to take in sweeping views of the ocean.

Crescent Head
photo credit: surfinn.travel

South West Rocks

 

A short drive north (just under an hour, but worth the extra stop!) you’ll arrive at South West Rocks. This seaside holiday town is situated at the mouth of the Macleay River and boasts uncrowded beaches in Arakoon National Park. The ocean here is literally crystal clear.

South West Rocks
photo credit: big4.com.au

Coffs Harbour

 

Yes, Coffs Harbour has the Big Banana, but it also has so much more than that. It’s an easy 100km drive north of South West Rocks and is a good spot to refuel and recaffeinate. Be sure to visit Sealy Lookout for spectacular views from the Forest Sky Pier at Sealy Lookout, a short drive from the city through hillside banana plantations. The wheelchair-accessible platform extends almost 22 metres over rainforest escarpment. Otherwise, simply wander the marina or sneak in a cheeky surf on your way up the coast.

Sealy lookout Coff harbour
Photo credit: visitnsw.com

Yamba

 

It’s the last stop on your Byron Bay road trip! Keep heading north and two hours later you will land in the coastal town of Yamba. Take a refreshing dip in the ocean pool, and get your caffeine fix in town!

Yamba ocean pools

Byron Bay

 

You’re here! About 90 minutes later you’ll reach Byron Bay. We know you’ve read all about what to do in Byron, but if you’re looking for inspiration, you can read all about our Byron summer bucket list, or favourite swimming spots.

Byron Bay Surf

Byron Farmers Market

Byron Farmers Market

 

Greens Byron Farmers Market

Garlic Byron Farmers Market

Chillies Byron Farmers Market

Herbs Byron Farmers Market

Flowers Byron Farmers Market

Cherry Tomatoes Byron Farmers Market

Curry Pack Byron Farmers Market

Carrots Byron Farmers Market

Roses Byron Farmers Market

Chillies Byron Farmers Market

Native Flowers Byron Farmers Market

Coffee Byron Farmers Market

Flowers Byron Farmers Market

The Byron Farmers Market is held every Thursday morning, in the Butler Street Reserve.

Stalls at the Byron Farmers Market include local produce vendors, breads, spreads, olives, coffee and so much more.

This past Thursday we met early morning for our weekly market shop-up. The majority of the produce available is organic, and rich in colour and flavour. It’s also perfect time to stock-up on produce that is usually hard to find in regular supermarkets. The food stalls serving breakfast are definitely worth you time for a healthy and nutritious start to the day.

Vine ripened tomatoes, super-hot scorpion chillies, native flowers and locally grown and roasted coffee, were on our agenda this week.

The Byron Farmers Market is also an opportunity to discover local up-and-coming musicians. Two tents at either end of the markets host different musicians every week offering even more atmosphere to the already humming event.

The flowers are another market draw-card! Stunning natives, roses and huge sunflowers this week (we love sunflower season).

After completing a few laps and filling up our baskets till overflowing, naturally coffee came next. It’s undeniable, we all have a coffee addiction! The market is a great opportunity to satisfy this addiction while supporting local coffee growers at the same time!

In true Team Sienna style, our  Byron Farmers Market morning ended with an impromptu manicure session…with the Rafiki holographic silver glitter of course. It’s so easy to get inspired for new nail polish colours while immersed in all the colours of the markets.

If you’re planning on going along to the market next week make sure to get there early. It starts at 7am and we recommend getting there shortly after. It makes parking a lot easier and the stalls will be fully stocked ready for you to choose the best! Hang around for an hour or so and listen to the live music and mingle with the locals- the perfect way to start your weekend a few days early.

Lighthouse Walk & Folk- Our Byron Morning Ritual

Folk Lighthouse morning ritual

Folk Lighthouse Morning Ritual

Outside Folk Byron Bay

Beetroot latte at Folk Byron Bay

Breakfast at Folk Byron Bay

Matcha latte at Folk Byron Bay

Coffees at Folk Byron Bay

double espresso at Folk Byron Bay

breakfast at Folk Byron Bay

There is nothing better than having a morning ritual, and for us it’s the lighthouse walk, followed by brekky at Folk.

On this particular morning, we started from Clarkes, followed the boardwalk along to The Pass and up over the track to Wategos. From there, was the quick ascent up to the lighthouse. The clouds cleared by the time we got to the top, and that view never grows old! We wandered back down through the rainforest and finished back at Clarkes.

The morning started out hazy and super muggy, but by the time we had reached the lighthouse, it cleared to be a beautiful morning.

The best part about the lighthouse walk is you can workout as hard or as easy as you like. The constant undulating hills as you go along from the pass to Wategos, and the steps from Wategos up to the lighthouse are a really good leg workout if you push it. But sometimes taking it easy and appreciating the view as you meander along can be just as therapeutic!

After the lighthouse, it was straight to Folk for brekky!

We swapped our usual soy lattes for the naturopathic lattes on nut milk- this time choosing the beetroot, lucuma, maca love potions and matcha mesquite antioxidant rich brew.

Whether you’re a sweet or savoury tooth, you can’t go wrong at Folk. Everything on the menu is vegetarian, with a number of vegan options also. We had the tahini and orange granola with beetroot vegan yoghurt, smashed avo on toast with dukkah and buckwheat hotcakes with house-made labne and fresh fruit. Trust us, it tastes just as good as it sounds (and looks!).

We were wearing Rafiki, Buttercup and Dream for our morning outing! Take a look at all our nail polish colours, or find them in town at Nami, Stoked or GoVita while you’re here.

If you’re visiting Byron for a weekend getaway, the lighthouse walk followed by Folk for breakfast is a must do!

 

An Update on Sienna x Rafiki Mwema

The girls of Rafiki Mwema show off their nails

girls at Rafiki Mwema painting their nails

two hands holding at Rafiki Mwema

We received these photos yesterday from Sarah at Rafiki Mwema.

Anne-Marie travelled to Kenya shortly after Christmas, and was able to take some bottles of polish with her, for the Rafiki girls.

The looks on their faces!

The photos speak for themselves, and it is beautiful to see Sienna in the hands of these girls who have been given a second chance at their childhood, in a safe, caring and therapeutic environment.

Rafiki Mwema is a therapeutic children’s home in Kenya. The children who come into the care of Rafiki Mwema, are victims of sexual and psychological abuse, street kids or have been rejected by their families. Children are taken into the home and offered medical and legal care and support, as well as going through a therapeutic care system.

Their stories are unbelievable and a lot of the time overwhelming, but it is important that we listen and support them however possible. These children, some under two-years-old, need our help.

The running costs of Rafiki Mwema are in excess of $15000/month, a figure that the charity isn’t able to meet without the help of donations from individuals and businesses. All the proceeds from the Sienna x Rafiki Mwema collaboration, go directly back to help the charity give these children the life they deserve.

There is a limited number of the Rafiki Mwema holographic silver glitter available on our website.

To learn more about the Rafiki Mwema story and our time with Sarah, you can read our blog post.

Byron Bay Sunset and Sunrise – Local style

Who loves a beautiful sunrise or sunset? Us too. Living in Byron Bay, we are very lucky to have big beautiful skies all year round. Whether it’s the blazing oranges and reds of an Autumn-Winter sunset or the neon pinks and oranges of a Summer sunrise, we are there to take it all in. And we’re not alone. Visitors and locals alike can be seen sitting peacefully and taking a moment to observe the natural rhythms of the sun and the moon. You can do that too now; you’re on Byron time.

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Sunrise

 

The iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse is the most obvious spot to enjoy the sunrise. It’s set at the most Easterly point of Australia so the sunrises are spectacular. The hour before the sun finally peeks over the horizon is beautiful, as the sky lights up with pastel shades of orange, pink and blue. Walk (or drive) up to the lighthouse with plenty of time before sunrise, find a spot to perch yourself and settle back and relax. If it’s a peaceful and calm morning, you can hear the first birdsong of the day and the waves crashing down below.  There is usually quite a crowd up at the lighthouse – even as early as 4.30am – but it’s a gentle crowd, all there for the same thing: to watch the sun come up. It’s a beautiful way to start the day.

Sunrise Byron Bay

Sunset

 

Main Beach in downtown Byron Bay is the hub of sunset activity every evening. It is the perfect spot to go with friends and a picnic blanket, find a patch of grass and chill out. The reflection of the sky onto the ocean is spectacular on both low-cloud or clear days. Park at Clarkes Beach and walk along the boardwalk for an amazing view and photo opportunity. There is an opening in the trees that looks out across Clarkes, down to Main Beach, and you can watch the sun set over the mountains in the distance. Magic.

Sunset Byron Bay

Byron Bay, we love you

Next time you’re visiting set your alarm early for at least one sunrise, and break away from the pub or restaurant one evening to watch the sunset from Main Beach. It will be the best light show you’ll ever see.

sienna Charity Collaborations

Rafiki Mwema x Sienna

We have created a nail polish for Rafiki Mwema, a charity providing therapeutic care for young girls and boys who are victims of violence and sexual abuse. 100% of the profits made from the sale of the Rafiki holographic silver glitter polish will go to Rafiki Mwema, to help provide these children with the upbringing they deserve. Here is their story.

 

 

Rafiki Mwema = ‘Loyal friend’

18-month old girls raped and shunned by their community is a harsh reality that Rafiki Mwema boss Sarah faces on a near daily basis. Rafiki Mwema means Loyal Friend in Swahili, and loyal friend is what the people and staff are to their children. We sat down with Sarah to hear her story and the story of the 61 Kenyan children who call Rafiki Mwema home.

Rafiki began through a need for a therapeutic safe house for young girls who had fallen victim to rape and abuse. They needed a place to live, receive therapy and support as they go through the court, medical and healing process. Pre Rafiki, founder Anne Marie witnessed these girls going into a ‘Remand Centre’, similar to a prison, where they could be raped again, or held for up to 9 months awaiting their court date.

“Anne Marie saw the need for a therapeutic safe house for the girls to come to. Her dream was to give these girls somewhere to go and to educate their family and community that it is not their fault. Often the families disown the child because they’ve been raped. We watch the families with the children, we teach them it’s not their fault and how to look after their daughter after she’s been through that trauma.”

young Kenyan girls at Rafiki Mwema with Anne Marie

Anne Marie with the young Rafiki Mwema girls

Where it all began

When Anne Marie started Rafiki Mwema, she put all of her efforts into creating the safe haven for children in need of therapeutic care. She soon ran out of money and with little knowledge of fundraising, was faced with potentially closing Rafiki Mwema. At that point they had 25 girls who would have to be dispersed back to their communities, orphanages or back to the Remand Centre. Anne Marie contacted Sarah asking for help.

“I had my own business, my own family and (after an horrific car accident) a body full of aches and pains, I didn’t have time for the charity. But my other option was these girls…”

“I thought, that can’t happen. They don’t have anywhere to go. They are so damaged they can’t go anywhere except stay with us.”

Sarah created a logo and Facebook page and then asked the community for sponsors for all the girls. Within 3 months all the girls were sponsored, and Sarah had created the Rafiki Mwema charity.

Today, Rafiki Mwema comprises of 2 houses for girls and 2 houses for boys.

Young Rafiki Mwema boy

Rafiki Mwema offers a safe haven for children who have suffered trauma in their short lives.

Boys are welcomes into the Rafiki family

The boys at Rafiki Mwema are from different situations to the girls. They come from the streets. They’re boys who have either run away from home or have been kicked out of their homes. The youngest is 6, the oldest 18. It began as a nourishment program for the boys on the street. Anne Marie would provide breakfast and dinner for the boys.

One day when she went to check on them, the police and street men were raping and abusing them. The horrific scene made her act quickly.

SARAH: “Anne Marie called me and said Sarah, I’ve just rented a house and I’ve put 10 boys in there.” At that point they were struggling to keep the girls home running, but through local community help, the boys program has now grown to the King’s Castle, and Princes’ Palace. Unlike the girls, the boys are unable to return home. They stay with Rafiki until they are 18, and are supported through schooling and therapy.

“One boy said he was dropped off to boarding school when he was 5 and no one came to pick him up when it was school holiday time. He walked into town, and now he’s 15. No one picked him up, so he doesn’t know if his family died, or if they forgot about him. He doesn’t know anything.”

young Kenyan boys perform dance at Rafiki Mwema Queen's Castle opening

The boys and girls live separately, but all come together as part of the Rafiki family

Growth of Rafiki

“One weekend I got another call from Anne Marie saying we had two sisters in hospital. They were 4 and 6 and had been raped brutally by their uncle. Their mother had gone to work in Saudi Arabia, which is very normal to go and work to send money back. They had been left with the aunty and uncle, but the aunty had gone, leaving the girls with the uncle. The uncle had been raping them, mentally abusing them and physically abusing them. They were in hospital to have reconstructive surgery. But we didn’t have room for them at the house. We literally didn’t have any room for one bed for them to share a bed.”

This ignited the push for a second girl’s house. Sarah went back to the Facebook community, and created a Go Fund Me account asking for $20,000 to rent a new house and cover costs for 3 month’s rent, staff fees and furnishing. Over that weekend, more than the full amount was raised, and the second home started.

Since that weekend, further fundraising by the Australian community, has led to the second house next door to Rafiki Mwema, Queen’s Castle, opening. The Queen’s Castle houses the teenage girls, and the Rafiki house for the younger girls. A small hut, called Malkia Mtoto (meaning Small Queen in Swahili) has also be built next to the Rafiki house, and acts as a transitional house for highly traumatised young girls when they first come into Rafiki Mwema care.

Sarah Rosborg and Anne Marie at Rafiki Mwema Queens Castle opening

The opening of the second Rafiki Mwema house, Queen’s Castle, was due to the tireless work from Australia by Sarah

Therapeutic Care

All the therapeutic staff are locals, who speak in Swahili and offer the children routine and a strong foundation for their time at Rafiki. They are all trained in DDP therapy, and are screened before coming in contact with any children. It’s a very caring therapy; connecting with the children’s emotions, acknowledging how they feel and how hard it must be. Each child is assigned a key-worker, who acts as a parental type figure, and stays with the child throughout their time at Rafiki. The key-worker attends court proceedings and medical appointments, as well as providing the therapeutic care crucial to the child’s recovery.

“When I left [in November] one boy was swearing at us don’t come back. Anne Marie said that’s because he’s the saddest out of all of them. He doesn’t know how to cry because if he cries he probably will never stop. They don’t cry in Kenya. For the kids, if their parents die, you would expect them not to cry. It’s a cultural thing.”

Group of young Kenyan girls play with staff at Rafiki Mwema

The children form a strong bond with the staff who are their key-workers and provide therapeutic care while at Rafiki Mwema

Going Home Process

“Our main aim is to always have the kids go back to their families, if the abuse didn’t happen in their family, and if their family can look after them and accept what has happened to them. The only way we can figure that out, is they are with us for therapy, court systems, medical and whatever else they need. When we think they are doing well mentally, that’s when we start the step-down program.”

The step-down process takes three months. During that time, children are taken back into their community with the Outreach staff. There is a team of 10 Outreach staff who take the children on home visits, watch the family and talk with them. The family also come to the therapeutic home, where they do therapy together and are taught how to deal with the child’s trauma.

So far, Rafiki has had 63 girls return home.

When they first return home, they are checked on twice a week, two weeks later they are checked on once a week, and one month later it’s once a month, with phone calls every week. They girls are checked on until they are 18.

“We make sure we go there and talk to the child in front of the family and talk to the child away from the family, privately. We’ve been in situations where the child hasn’t been ok, but has been too petrified to tell us.”

Three girls have had to return to Rafiki since going home.

“One girl went home and we didn’t know she was being abused because it was too far in the village and we couldn’t get in there. We couldn’t get access to it because we didn’t have a 4WD, so I raised money for a 4WD. When we finally found her, she was being tied up outside her house and raped by all the village men. Her mother tied her up. There are a lot of girls who will never leave us because they’ve got nowhere to go or because they are too traumatised”

She was being tied up outside her house and raped by all the village men. Her mother tied her up.

Young Kenyan girls play at Rafiki Mwema house

Young girls of the Rafiki Mwema house

Advances for the children’s court system

In the court systems in Nakuru the abuser/perpetrator can question the victim. The children have to go through the ordeal of facing their abuser, often vomiting or soiling themselves in fear, before having to testify against the very person staring at them.

Sarah and Anne Marie had the idea to start what they call the safe link; the Rafiki safe link.

The safe link means the perpetrator is in the court room, and the child is out the back in a safe room with their keyworker. A video and screen is set up so the child can see the courtroom and vice versa, however they never comes face to face with their abuser. They can testify while in the safe room also. Having this implemented was a huge advance in the court system the children faced.

“We got it passed. We raised the money. When I was there in November we had the official opening. It’s a simple thought but it just hadn’t happened. We would never let a perpetrator question a child here, but there…”

Rafiki Link in Nakuru Children's Court

The Rafiki Link, video link system installed in Nakuru Children’s court. All Rafiki images courtesy of Aaron, UAVisuals

 

The future for Rafiki

At the moment, it’s costing around $15000 a month to run Rafiki Mwema, and they are not yet making that amount. Sarah is pushed to her limit on what she can do with Rafiki, but has big plans for the future.

“What we would love to do is have foster pods set up on our land for kids who are with us but can’t go home anywhere and are too traumatised and little. We have an amazing therapeutic home, but a foster home is always going to be better… What we would love is to have little huts set up on our land. We want to buy the land next door to set up therapeutic foster huts for these children so they can live there forever with their foster mum and grow up that way.”

If I just watched all this shit and did nothing, I wouldn’t be alive

Hearing about these children’s stories is heartbreaking, and the work of Rafiki Mwema both inspirational but also vital for these children’s future. Sarah’s devotion to Rafiki, she describes as an obsession, and it is clear to see the monumental impact she is having on the Nakuru community.

“If I just watched all this shit and did nothing, I wouldn’t be alive. This is only one thing. I can’t do everything but I can do this, so I focus on this and I see the change happening. People have said to me “but you’ve got one girl coming in, that’s not really making much difference”. But I think it is a difference. I’ve got 60 kids with all their friends, all their family, all these people watching, and you don’t know how big it will go. Even if it was just one person, isn’t that enough?”

rafiki mwema x sienna byron bay

The Sienna x Rafiki Mwema manicure session

Rafiki Mwema

Sarah from Rafiki Mwema with Danielle

Rafiki Mwema’s beautiful website can be found here:
Rafiki Mwema turn up the volume!!!