All of the orphans at Tsungirirai are living in poverty, and although they are all strongly encouraged to continue their schooling, being skilled in a craft or marketable skill can only open more possibilities for future work. Several of the children head households and must provide for their younger siblings. Without a viable skill, these children may turn to less desirable forms of income.
Our goal is to train adolescents in a skill that is useful and interesting to them so that they can be proud of their work as they grow to be responsible, contributing members of the community. Many of the projects we started years ago are still running, and because profits from the sale of these items go back to the skills building program to purchase additional materials, some children have been quite successful.
Wire Making Project
The wire toy group started seven years ago when a local artisan came to Tsungirirai and taught a group of children how to make 6 inch bicycles with a pair of pliers and wire. The children who showed the most interest and potential formed a group and continued to make bicycles. Tsungirirai sponsored the wire bike group for one year, paying for supplies and splitting the proceeds of any sales with the group. After that year, the group was required to teach the skills to a new group of children and branch out to form their own business. Four of the original six children have successfully formed a small income generating business, and a couple others have branched out on their own. We have invited the professional artist back and asked him to teach the children to make other vehicles so now the more seasoned wire artists are able to make bikes ($10), helicopters ($10), cars ($15) and even motorcycles ($20). A couple of them have taught themselves to make small geckos, flipflops and other creative keychains ($5). If you are interested in buying or selling wire crafts, you can contact us for more information.
“Women’s Pride Washable Pads”
Bridget McBride helped a group of teenage girls develop “Real Pads for Real Women” during her trip in August 2010. After learning that disposable feminine hygiene products were often prohibitively expensive, Bridget researched a company called Lunapads to see how washable pads might be made. With videos and patterns she taught girls how to sew their own reusable cloth pads. The girls, and all the older women in the community were quick to point out the economic and hygienic advantages of a reusable, washable product.
A small group of girls have continued the pad project and are hoping to grow in 2011. On their wish list: 3 new sewing machines, additional fabric and help with marketing. They have made connections with a shop owner who will sell their product. All profits will go back into the hands of the girls involved in the project.