The work of People in NeedBy: TANJA BAUSE
IN 2004, People in Need, a non-profit organisation from the Czech Republic, founded a sheltered craft workshop in Keetmanshoop with the aim of reducing the social and economic affects of HIV-AIDS and TB in southern Namibia.
The project was supported by the government of the Czech Republic from 2004 to 2009. In 2009 Karas Huisen Crafts (KHC) was established as an independent Namibian charitable trust, which took over operations of the craft workshop to ensure its long-term sustainability after the withdrawal of People in Need from Namibia in 2010. Huisen means ‘help yourself’ in Nama.
KHC gives the people from Tseiblaagte, the poorest suburb in Keetmanshoop an opportunity to learn basic working habits, to develop their skills, to strengthen their self-esteem and self-worth. The workshop give the people the opportunity to develop their traditional craft skills and the chance to earn a basic income. KHC currently provides jobs to about 50 people most of them women, who are the main breadwinners in their households. The KHC workshop provides job opportunities mainly to people suffering from HIV-AIDS, TB or other chronic diseases but they also help people who are in need from households affected by HIV-AIDS or who are subjected to extreme poverty.
During the years the project has had a significant impact on peoples lives, especially in terms of building their self-confidence, self-worth, self-discipline, financial planning and providing a long-term vision to families of the KHC staff and especially their children, like access to secondary and tertiary education.
Unskilled workers without any experience in formal employment have become craft making professionals, who have worked with the project already for more than five years.
About one third of the people who have worked with the project for a number of years have found employment in the formal job market. KHC is also a family friendly employer, who encourages the mothers to bring their children to the workshop.
KHC specialises in needle-work, beadwork and jewellery made from ostrich egg shells. These are all traditional Nama crafts typical of the region and its people.
All products are hand-made with unique designs from Namibia. The women make bags, soft toys in the shapes of African animals and dolls, decorative products like tablecloths, pillow cases and placemats, are amongst some of the over 100 types of products for sale. They also do T-shirt printing and corporate wear embroidery. Conference bags, gowns for schools or church choirs and quilted wall-hangings and bedspreads are all made to the customers specifications.
In Windhoek KHC products can be bought at the Namibian Craft Centre and in Swakopmund, Aus, Lüderitz, Okahandja and Omaruru products are sold in partner shops. The KHC Wake Centre in Keetmanshoop sells the products at wholesale prices. KHC products are also exported to the Czech Republic where they are sold by People in Need. All proceeds from sale of these products in the Czech Republic are sent back to the people who originally made them.
The products can be viewed at www.nama.cz.