Both she and Whitten agreed that the purse project fit within the mission of the tailoring school (also called St. Monica's Girls School), to teach women to sew and produce other crafts to earn a wage.
“I never knew crocheting would be useful to me, and now it's a teaching tool for other people,” Nyirumbe said, smiling.
Whitten set about finding tabs and was excited when the Anheuser Busch metal container facility in Oklahoma City decided to make a donation of tabs to Sisters United.
Working from Nyirumbe's designs, the St. Monica's students have created tote bags, clutches, shoulder bags and belts from the tabs. The items come in different colors, including green, orange, red, blue and black.
Meanwhile, Whitten said Oklahomans are connected to the project in other ways.
A group from Tahlequah helped create the label found inside the lining of the pop-tab purses.
She said much of the material used for the bags was purchased at Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby, which she said Nyirumbe regards as her “Disneyland.”
Also, Whitten said students from the northwest Oklahoma City, Edmond and Deer Creek School District area gathered at her home on several occasions to help her remove the tabs from cans to send to the Ugandans.
“There's been a lot of hands touch these tabs between here and Africa,” she said,
Purses to make debut
Whitten said she is hopeful that the limited-edition purses will be a big hit at Thursday's unveiling. Four of the women who helped make the purses will be on hand at the event.
A crowd apparently is anticipating the purses' debut: Whitten said the event is sold out.
“This is a story of restoration and how you can rehabilitate a person and help them move forward,” she said.See another video about the project