Stories of Crafters
Craft income changes lives in deep-rural KwaHlabisa Orders for beaded craft products have generated significant income for crafters in the KwaHlabisa municipality, who have received support from Africa!Ignite over the last two years and produced 35 201 Millennium Development Goal bracelets mid 2011. Many of the crafters talk about how the income from craft has made a difference to their lives in this deep-rural part of northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Four of these crafters, all members of the Siphumelele (We have succeeded) Craft Group, told their stories to Zasembo Mkhize. Here are a few extracts:
Siphumelele Craft Group members show off some of the Millennium Development Goal bracelets that they made. They attribute their success to hard work and unity.
Ncengani Petronella Mahlinza (centre) is a 32 year-old mother of four children; she creates beautiful beadwork and says she acquired her skill from generations that came before her. “I’m inspired by mothers, our craft group, Siphumelele (We have succeeded), and my community, KwaHlabisa eMakhowa. I’m surrounded by beauty.” She is one of the youngest women in her craft group but she is very skilled and passionate.
Maureen MaJiyane Mahlinza Maureen 'MaJiyane' Mahlinza, in the doorway of her almost-complete new hut, which she built with money earned from Africa!Ignite’s craft orders.. She says the money earned from making MDG bracelets has built her this hut. The 63-years-old has been her family’s sole breadwinner since her husband came back from working in Gauteng’s mines after he developed epilepsy. She says her children and grandchildren are her greatest joy and being married for 33 years is her greatest achievement and a blessing. Today she earns a living by creating wooden dolls, woven baskets and more regularly doing bead work. She keeps reminding Africa!Ignite that she needs more orders so that she can finish the roof of her house.
Didlaza MaNdlovu Mnguni, pictured here in her home, is a mother and a wife. She is the sole breadwinner in the family and does craft work for a living. She often opens up her house to her craft group; Siphumelele, to work as a collective or when they have workshops. “We like to work as team; when we are all together the work goes faster and we help each other. My wish is that we get a sponsor to build us a craft centre with electricity close to our homes so that we can be more productive,” says MaNdlovu.
Bonisiwe Nsukwini also known as ‘MaNsukwini’ stands here in the new home that she built from craft income. Bonisiwe says that Siphumelele is the coming together of women with a vision of a better future and good neighbourliness. “The women I work with are my sisters and mothers; I have learnt a lot from them. Bead work keeps us going; it is through beads that I am able to provide for my family,” says MaNsukwini. She is the mother of five children and two grandchildren and is the sole breadwinner for her family.