Big dreams for 35 jobless women

Imizamo Yethu community development worker, Kenny Tokwe, gathered 35 unemployed women from the community to take part in a beading and sewing programme.

The aim of the programme is to empower the women with skills and encourage them to start their own businesses.

In a pilot project run by the provincial government and led by project officer Vuyokazi Ntshinka, Abasuki Co-operative was used as their service provider to teach the young women the fine art of top stitching, basting and bead embroidery.

Mr Tokwe, who’s been working as a community development worker for the past 12 years, says he is the eyes and ears of the people and added that everyone was excited about the news of the project.

“We have over 25 000 people living in our community and unemployment is rife. We invited the young women to take part and the goal is to help them to form their own co-operatives. We believe that in 50 years time, the jobs that we have today will be gone because all the work will be done by machines and technology. So if we can help them to work with their hands then they’ll have a trade in order to survive,” said Mr Tokwe.

They also hope to keep the youth off the streets.

“The project is about teaching them how to make clothes. People won’t stop wearing clothes so these skills can also be passed on to the next generation. The skills will also help keep our youth off the streets and away from drug addiction and teenage pregnancy,” he said.

Pelisa Bangeni, 26, who was one of the students at the programme, said she had never seen a sewing machine before and had no idea how to cut, stitch or bead but is optimistic about what she can do now with her new skill set.

“Before coming here I had no job, I was at home and struggled to find work. I decided to join the project because there was nothing else happening in the community and this programme sounded really interesting. We were divided into two groups where half were taught how to sew school uniforms and the others learnt beading. The programme was exciting, it kept me busy and I’ve learnt some new skills that can help me find work,” said Ms Bangeni.

Ms Ntshinka was present at all times to ensure the programme was executed smoothly by service provider Abasuki.

The pilot project was launched in Malmesbury in November last year, with Imizamo Yethu being its second location and final stop.

“The department wanted to help people with sewing skills. We decided to use Abasuki as the service provider to do this job and worked with each area for a period of 25 days. Prior to coming to Hout Bay, I was in communication with the leaders of the community who went out to get people who showed interest in the project. Abasuki has provided all the equipment and materials as well. They did an amazing job teaching these ladies who came with no experience,” said Ms Ntshinka.

She recalls how they started.

“But you could see their hunger and eagerness to want to grasp the knowledge and skill. Most of them did not know how to touch the machines and were even scared to work on it,” she said.

Ms Ntshinka acknowledged that Imizamo Yethu is a big community and that empowering 35 women was not enough. They’ll reassess the project and will look to come back and rerun it on a bigger scale.

“We won’t just leave them with the new skills now with the training being done we’ll continue to support them in getting them started by assisting in buying them material, providing additional training and job creation. We’ll divide them into groups and assist them in registering them as co-operatives which will enable them to source funding from the department,” she said.