Today, I want to introduce an amazing project that has been initiated and organized by Caroline Wanjiku Kihato and Elizabeth Kading. The project is called Kwerekwere. The term Kwerekwere means “foreigner” in Zulu, but is used derogatorily. The Kwerekwere project aims to overturn the negative perceptions of foreigners, refugees, the unemployed, and other economic or social outsiders, by providing women from these groups with income and opportunities to express themselves. By reclaiming the Kwerekwere identity, this project turns it into a productive and positive term that contributes to the community. The Kwerekwere label was established to help women gain skills, find long-term sources of income, and to encourage pride in our diverse backgrounds. Kwerekwere products are created from recycled coffee bean bags and African textiles, hand-made by women living in Johannesburg, South Africa.
This is Jariah, one of the sewers of the Kwerekwere project.
I got the chance to speak with Elizabeth about this project and here is what she had to say:
"From the inception of the project, I expected that having an income would make a difference in the sewers' lives, but I didn't anticipate the improved confidence and feelings of fulfillment I have witnessed. The transformation I have seen is astounding. I repeatedly receive gratitude for the changes that being involved in Kwerekwere has produced. The project has facilitated lifestyle changes, such as being able to stay home and look after children while still earning an income, but it has also facilitated that natural human need to explore, learn, improve, and grow. One woman now feels so good about her new skills that she stays up and continues to sew into the night after her children have gone to bed---it brings her joy to work with the materials, progress with her skills, and produce beautiful products. She even experiments with new designs when she is finished sewing wallets and Tote bags, and this woman barely knew how to use her sewing machine when she started working with us. When I'm visiting her house to bring her more supplies or collect finished products, not only can I see it on her face, but I can feel the sense of elation, confidence, and fulfillment that this project has facilitated."
To purchase these amazing items or to learn more go to:
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