Iziko lo Lwazi Craftworkers

Photo courtesy Steve Wampler

female empowerment through creativity 

Hout Bay’s informal settlement, Imizamo Yethu, is home to approximately 20 000 people who live mostly in shacks in overcrowded, impoverished conditions. Half the community is unemployed and many households are headed by women. Iziko lo Lwazi Craftworkers, a registered non-profit organisation established in 2001, aims to empower these women through education and employment.

helping the needy to help each other

The organisation operates from the Hout Bay Community Cultural Centre, where workshops teach Xhosa women from Imizamo Yethu how to create beautiful beadwork, paper and associated products, and develop their English language and numeracy skills. The women are also encouraged to play a role in growing the organisation through product development and marketing. They, in turn, support more than 60 community members.

From small beginnings, when paper pulp was produced in a tin bath on the stoep of the library of Imizamo Yethu, the project has grown to the point where it now operates a small workshop and studio adjacent to the community centre. A line of products incorporating beading and papermaking skills has been developed and marketed to the local craft market and various shops around Cape Town and overseas.

creative recycling

All paper products are made using Iziko lo Lwazi’s own, specially created paper, which is made from shredded, recycled paper and different natural materials, such as seaweed, rooibos tea, mielies, river reeds, and horse and camel dung. The women of Iziko lo Lwazi make beaded products using glass beads and high-quality thread. Many of the designs are the women’s own or have evolved from customer feedback. Some of the latest products include beaded vuvuzelas and beaded dog collars, both of which make ideal curios.

An hour-long tour of the facility at a cost of R25 includes learning how to make paper, a gift tag and a beaded decoration to take home. Visitors are also given the opportunity to taste traditional African food. Informal visitors are welcomed at no charge.

Tours are available from Mondays to Fridays, from 09h00 to 16h00. Large groups wanting to tour the workshop should book in advance.

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