Kudvumisa Foundation has always strived to find unique opportunities in resources and skills that would provide viable opportunities for those locked in poverty in Swaziland to take advantage of. In 2008 glass etching was introduced as a vehicle to spark imagination and creativity in rural Swazi youth. The program has continued since then training numerous young men and women in computer usage and glass etching skills.
To build on the existing base of glass etching expertise, a class of fourteen young men and women were invited to participate in a training for warm glass basic technique. Glass fusing and slumping were combined to teach the possibilities of glass for art and jewelry. The goal being to find young men and women who could develop the technical skills and have the passion to create custom art for sale here in Swaziland.
Thabile was one young woman who participated. From deep rural Swaziland, she was extremely shy and quiet around her mostly urban peers. But given the chance and platform to be creative, Thabile was able to create some beautiful pieces of glass art and jewelry. Thabile has a family to take care of at her homestead. With little means to earn money, many nights, the entire family goes to bed hungry. With the new skills and the opportunity to design and create glass art, Thabile now has the opportunity to earn extra money for her family.
Kudvumisa Foundation has always been committed to making the connection between skills and resources and markets. The glass art opportunity Thabile participated in will have a direct impact on her family financially and her personally as she can make a contribution to their wellbeing: a concrete step in bringing “hope to the hopeless” in impoverished and isolated areas of Swaziland.
Marula has played an important part of the cultural heritage in Swaziland for countless generations. The fruit is used to make a tasty brew called Buganu. A week long country wide festival revolves around the brew. But when the brewing (and drinking) is over, all that is left is a pile of discarded hard shells. Inside the shells are two kernels which are full of an oil which is both edible and in high demand for cosmetics.
In the past we've provided a hand press for the use of women in the community to press oil for their own use in cooking. There has been some uptake, but not the demand we had hoped. We bought several kg of the cracked kernels, pressed them, and then gave the oil to a lady who makes hand, body and facial creams and lotions here in Swaziland. Her enthusiasm for the oil was tremendous. So with a set market for the oil we are making plans to buy the cracked kernels from the poor rural women in the communities we are in. This will provide a direct income stream to them at a time and in a place of the country affected by the ongoing country wide drought.
Pressing the oil with the original hand press is both time consuming and terribly inefficient. We will be taking delivery of an electric press from the US next month. With the new press, we’ll be able to buy and press large quantities of the oil. In addition, the new press will also be used to press another type of oil also for cosmetics. Moringa was introduced into Swaziland several years ago. The oil from moringa seeds is also in high demand for cosmetics. But pressing with the hand press was almost impossible as the seeds are much harder and the oil content lower. The new press will help provide multiple streams of income to hundreds of people in Swaziland.
Your continued investment in the work Kudvumisa does makes an impact in the fight against poverty here.
Given opportunity, unemployed and idle young men will work to bring in income. Thokozane was hired on a part time basis to go into the different communities that Kudvumisa serves to talk about the economic development opportunities we are trying to develop.
Three young men from Khomba in Vuvulane stepped up to the challenge. They visited many of the homesteads around where they lived and were able to gather enough marula shells to fill five 50 gallon (220 liter) barrels. They were paid the equivalent of $15 per barrel. In a country where the number of people living on less than $2 per day is substantial, this money will go a long way to providing food for the families of these 3 young men. All five barrels were sold into a waiting market for landscaping material in Mbabane.
In an isolated and impoverished rural area of Swaziland, there is little local opportunity to work. Kudvumisa's commitment to these communities is to find opportunities for local resources to be sold into markets far out of the reach of the people here. Thokozane helps make that possible. He is able to provide the Swazi connection from Kudvumisa into the most rural communities and homesteads to help make this a reality. His monthly salary is paid from the support for this project.
Trying to find resources where the CHIPS (Community Health Intervention Programme Swaziland) program operates that can be marketed outside the community is a challenge. But we have found something that seems to have some appeal in the capital of Mbabane, 120 kilometers away!
Currently, macadamia shells are imported from South Africa and sold through the garden shops as ground cover for flower beds. We have introduced local marula shells into the market and hope to supplant the South African imports.
Marula shells are discarded each year after the marula fruit has been harvested. The left over shells are thrown into ever growing mounds. Having zero value here in Maphiveni, this is an ideal opportunity to create the connection to a market where the shells do have value.
While several groups in the communities CHIPS serves have stepped up, a group from Maphiveni has collected and supplied over eight 50 gallon (220 liter) drums of the shells. We pay E200 (about US $20) per barrel of shells and sell them for E300 in Mbabane (the difference helps cover some of the cost of petrol and maintenance on the trailer [as it is taking a beating on the gravel road and carrying four full barrels at a time]).
In an area that has little to no viable economy, this injection of funds helps the people that supply the shells buy the necessities and things to make their life better.
Continuing to grow the market is a priority as well hiring local Swazi's to promote the opportunity into the different CHIPS communities.
Thokozane inspecting crawfish traps in the Mbuluzi
We have known Thokozane for several years. He lives in a rural homestead about 45 minutes outside Mbabane by dirt road. He has had to take responsibility for all his siblings as their parent died several years ago from HIV. It is a hard life by most counts. There never seems to be a shortage of needs, emergencies, or disasters. But he has survived.
Thokozane is a bright and hardworking young man who has helped us in many of the economic development projects. From pressing the first batch of marula and moringa oil to experimenting with compressing marula shells into fire logs. He has helped us set up our first baby crawfish experiment in the middle veld at his homestead. He was known as "Mr. Moringa" for many years as the local moringa expert in the country: teaching many many homesteads how to grow, harvest and use the leaves from the moringa trees.
Recently we asked Thokozane to begin the process of introducing some of the projects into the communities we have worked in for the HIV and health program. First, he spent a week processing and pressing moringa seeds gathered from a stand of moringa in Vuvulane. The exercise was meant to fine tune the process of seed preparation and pressing the seeds for oil to revitalize the moringa market in Swaziland: many people planted moringa in the past 5 years but most has fallen into disuse. His next challenge will be to spend a week in the local communities talking to people to educate them on the availability of the press for both marula and moringa oil. As much as we would like to impact the community, it works much better having a Swazi work and communicate in the community. We are expecting Thokozane to have a tremendous impact with his ability to teach and garner interest in the local communities!
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