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Bead Lanyards Create Work for Locals in Need

Tue, 12th April '11

By Carol Campbell

Lanyards for Wildfire 2011


The colourful bead lanyards Wildfire 2011 Conference delegates are to be given for their name badges at the conference were made especially by a group of disadvantaged and HIV positive men and women at a job-creation centre in Cape Town.

The 15 crafters are based at African Hope Crafts in Fish Hoek, on the southern Cape Peninsula, and all live in the nearby community of Masiphumelele. The craft centre is run by American missionaries Bill and Anne Eames who moved to South Africa over six years ago with the sole purpose of creating opportunities for the country’s most vulnerable people.

“The Wildfire 2011 Conference was a big project for us,” says Anne, “it created enough beading to give the whole group an extra half a day of work over six weeks.”

The lanyard is made from wood and seed beads with two, hand-rolled, clay beads with the conference logo on it. It is designed so that it can be used as a sunglass strap after the conference.

The crafters who made the lanyards work an average of 10 hours a week and are paid per item they produce, says Anne. Each worker is also given a hot meal during her shift along with spiritual and emotional support.

Crafter Veliswa Qubekile, a single mother to her six-month old son Endinako, originally hails from a village near Umtata in the Eastern Cape and says she is working for her child.

“This job lets me spend time with my baby and make enough money to buy food.”

Beading has always been part of her life because, in Xhosa culture, it is used for traditional purposes, says Veliswa.

Crafter Avuyise Lumani and her husband, Benjamin, a security guard, and their five-year-old daughter, Leyonela, come from East London and live in a shack in Masiphumelele.

“We came to Cape Town for work but it’s not an easy life living in a shack especially in the winter with the rain,” she says. Her goal is to learn to drive and run a business, which she hopes to do one day in the Eastern Cape.

Anne and Bill Eames, who run the project, are missionaries from the Kensington Community Church in Troy, Michigan.  Bill is a retired engineer and is currently also supervising the building of two homes for orphans in Masiphumelele.

African Hope Crafts sells a variety of bead jewellery including some with pearls and crystals at reasonable prices. “Our prices are low so we can sell more and create more work. Our crafters earn far more than minimum wage, which gives hope and opportunity to all of them since they would normally not be able to work,” says Anne.

To contact African Hope Crafts visit the website: http://www.africanhopecrafts.org