Light up a life: Ernestina is a skilled carver making a name for herself in a male-dominated craft

This holiday season, you can light up a life by making a loan on Kiva, or by giving the gift of a Kiva Card to someone you love.

Ernestina, an artisan in Ghana, is dressed to the nines for company but doesn’t hesitate for a moment to climb into her carving workshop and show us how it’s done.

When she carves it’s a full body effort. She positions herself on a tree stump, across from her material. She uses her legs, clad in beautiful orange embellished pants, to pin the wood in place and begins chiseling, wood chips flying. She kicks off her shoes for better traction.

It’s mesmerizing to see how quickly the wood changes from a plank with a rough pencil sketch to the form of a mother.

“When I carve, I feel like God has given me something to create,” Ernestina says. She’s been honing her craft for 20 years, since she was 15 years old. Women carvers are still not very prevalent in Ghana, she says, but she loved the craft so much she kept working at it.

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About the author

Talea Miller

Talea is excited to combine her love for powerful storytelling and her digital strategy experience. She comes to Kiva from the Kaiser Family Foundation, where she managed digital strategy for the foundation's consumer-focused PSA campaigns. Prior to that she was a reporter and producer at the PBS NewsHour for five years. At the NewsHour she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the developing world as part of the program's global health unit, covering a wide range of stories including the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, doctor shortages in Tanzania and the mistreatment of the mentally ill in Indonesia. In addition to being a news junkie, Talea enjoys photography, hiking and attempting to paint. She graduated from Northwestern University with a B.S. in Journalism and is originally from Maryland. So she also knows a lot about horses.