By: Kim Sparrow, Hideaways
Economic prosperity is a threadbare concept in the village of Dete, Zimbabwe. The number of employed residents in the town with a of population 4300 is less than 1%. Yet it is within such dire circumstances that the Thandanani Sewing Project was born.
Nestled under the mango tree, surrounded by an array of brilliant colours of Chitenge material, are five formidable women armed with needle and thread. Thandanani, meaning ‘Love Each Other,’ encompasses the cohesion of community so integral to African culture. Teaching each other and imparting skills leading to sustainable lifestyles, is a powerful display of love. These women love with force, woven into the fabric of livelihood and ambition. As veritable entrepreneurs, they have combined their lack of sewing knowledge and minimal savings – self-taught with self-bought machines – and have created a viable income revenue.
As well as making all the uniforms for the local schools, providing fresh fashion for locals, Thandanani also supplies surrounding lodges such as Hideaways’ Elephant’s Eye, Hwange and Nantwich with a variety of merchandise. This additional revenue stream supported by tourism boosted the standard of living for the Thandanani team, reaping what they sew. Unfortunately, this income stream has dried up and the ladies are now left with very little. Lodges and locals can no longer afford their wares, the situation now robed in despair, taking threadbare to a whole new level.
Hideaways remains committed to supporting the project through these turbulent times by continuing to raise funds for Project Penya – an initiative which requires these females entrepreneurs to utilise their skills by creating reusable sanitary wear to keep our girls in school.
Hope is sewn into song as the Thandanani team remain nestled under the mango tree in anticipation of the return of tourism. Their families and community depend on it. Now more than ever is a time of solidarity for these women, connected in love for each other, and all those hanging on to the threads of change.
Click here To make a remote contribution and help nurture these seeds of change, supporting these formidable women by weaving hope into their futures.