An update on the Women’s Co-op Groups!

One of the founders of Malambo Grassroots, Jocelyn Banyard, was recently in Zambia and sent us through this lovely update on how the Income Generation projects with the Women’s Co-op Groups are doing!

Read on…

Mutimba

Dear All,

We just completed the 9 day skills building workshop for women sponsored by Rotary Nelson.  It was SUCH a success.  Many many thanks to Rotary.  I am completely exhausted.

We had 2 women from Monze rural – Mutinta and Mutimba.

One lady from Mazabuka – Charity.

One lady from Kafwefwe – Elenor.

2 from Choma – Esnart and her daughter Busiku

and 5 from Siavonga – Loveness, Bridget, Grace, Febby and I have forgotten the last ladys name.

Joi came down for a break from Monze and pitched in helping – she is good with colour choice and did a lot of pattern copying – nice.  We also had a young rocket scientist, Peter, from Holland.  He designs propulsion systems for rocket ships to take them to deep space – a cheery super positive young brain who helped with many technical difficulties. (And made an appropriate technology sample of a light bulb made from a water bottle that is equivalent to 50 watts that I could show the women – good for those village homes with the tiny windows)

Bead work in progress

The idea was to introduce 2 new techniques (to low/no income women)– rug hooking and beaded art pieces.  The women were picked as potential leaders who could then go home and share with others.  The women did very well and loved both techniques.  I put most of them up in the lodge and the Choma ladies in the Castle.  I  would go over in the am at about 7 and all would be working.  Each day we started at 9 officially and worked until 5pm.  When I visited them in the evenings they would still be working up to 8 or 9 pm or 10 – and the Siavonga ladies said they worked until 11pm sometimes – by solar light.  Not usual in Zambia.  They all became totally hooked on the beads.

Febbie's first full size carpet!

Most of the funds were spent on transport and food and some t-shirts.  My mother, sister and I donated most of the materials and the lodging was free.  With the remaining we are buying some beads and frames so the women can continue.  Joi is finalizing the budget.  ($500 was spent on a previous workshop – bringing Sam in from Lusaka to teach Siavonga ladies papermache and how to decorate.)

We are going to try and get beads from Tanz to lower costs but in the immediate future will buy from Soweto in Lusaka.

The rug hooking went very well too.  We reviewed many issues on how to improve – from how to read a drawing, to light and dark values, how to choose second hand tshirts that looked new and were for v large people (to maximize profit).  This product so far sells well and easily.  I believe this workshop will help improve the group in Monze – I’ll let you know.  (I asked the Monze ladies who all say they are making good money with the rugs already. )  For the Siavonga, Choma, and Mazabuka women – this was a new technique.

Massages after a long day!

All the women came really not knowing what we were going to do – as soon as they saw the beads their eyes lit up.  Zambians LOVE beads.  I think this product might do very well with the newly wealthy local population here which is great.  They worked so hard everyone got very cramped neck muscles.  So Joi offered free massages to all.  Elenor (62) jumped at the offer.  I attach a photo.  I also set up the trampoline next to the lodge as I figured we needed some exercise to counter the hard work.  When it was set up the women crowded around and I asked if they’d like to try.  “Yes”.  “Well – go on”  “What is it?”  So we had to demo.  Great excitement, laughter and fun.  “Is this a bouncy castle?” Again – Elenor at the forfront – determined to enjoy every second.  SO each night the women bounced until dark, often one lying down in complete laughter as another jumped to bounce her.

Esnart, who is Tonga, is the indigenous craft expert of Zambia.  She was most helpful during the workshop – helping explain concepts like light value and dark value colour choices, and how marketing works if you are selling to a middle man ext.  Everyone fell under her spell – she is very kind and caring.  I am going to try and help her set up in the Choma area (not sure how yet – no funds myself).  She has no funds at all and is excellent with quality control – so the items will be good. And she will be working with v rural women who have nothing at all.

I sent each group home with beads, and designs for both beads and carpets and I shall continue making designs for all.

Love to all,

Joc”

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