||UBUNYE BEADWORK PROJECT
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Intervening with children in crisis remains the central tenet of our work, but as well as putting out fires, we are trying to burn some fire-breaks. Family preservation and reunification are hampered by the abject poverty of the children's home circumstances.
"Any programme assisting children should not end in the street but in the community where the children come from. Children on the street are a symptom and dealing only with symptoms is purely remedial" - Africa Insight
Our experience has taught us that despite all our efforts to mediate the child's return to the family, in many cases this return is short-lived because of the family's inability to meet the child's most basic needs. This causes him to drift back on to the street. There is no food at home. It's as simple as that.
In order to address this challenge, in 2000 The Homestead established a skills training project for ten to fifteen women - mothers, aunts and sisters of children in our projects. The children may either be at risk of becoming street children, or are already on the streets.
The project has two primary objectives. Firstly, the women are able to earn a small income, making it possible for them to provide for their children's basic needs. Secondly, the women develop job skills and self-esteem. For many of them, this is their first experience of holding a job and taking responsibility for themselves and their children. They also have many personal and relationship
problems and are provided with counselling, parenting skills training, HIV/AIDS education and small business skills training.
Since it's inception, the Job Creation project has proved quite successful. The project was initially based in Manenberg, but moved to the Bokaap in the city in 2003. Women travel in from various communities to work on a daily basis.
Participants are taught skills in beadwork and hand-sewing. They produce a range of beadwork articles - bracelets, Christmas decorations, and beaded bags. Some products are produced for order, such as South African Airways badges.
Others are sold at various local outlets, and at Barneys of New York's Chicago branch!
The women also do contract work for established businesses. Contract work has been secured with Armilla Jewellery in Somerset West which generates a reasonably steady income for the women. Materials are supplied by Armilla and the labour is paid for on completion of each consignment.
More recently, contracts were secured with Pure Africa and Pica-Nini. The latter is for sewing decorations on to baby clothes. We are always on the lookout for new contracts.
Women participate in the Job Creation Project for eighteen months. During this period, we arrange parent training and life skills training to expand the horizons of these underprivileged women. These functions are subcontracted to other NGOs. Our Community Services Social Worker provides individual counselling, where necessary, for relationship issues, domestic violence and substance
abuse. Towards the end of the 18-month programme, women are placed with Job Start, an NGO which provides training for placement in the hospitality industry for a small fee. Several of the women have successfully secured employment in the formal sector. In this way, we move participants on to make way for new women to join the project.
Much of the success of this project is due to volunteers who help with design and marketing. We like to think that we have a grass roots production team, with strict quality control, and a first world marketing strategy.