Thursday, December 10, 2009

Crafts Bring Hope To Vulnerable Communities!

The CDP Trust is an NGO in Bertrams, Johannesburg. Charlotte and her tireless crew are helping abused women and refugees to change their lives and find hope of a better future.
The trainers at CDP use visual arts to stimulate victims to talk about their situations and face their realities. The creative experience promotes healing as they speak about what has happened to them.
The images that they create are used further as the basis for the Arts For Advocacy programme. The evocative images are far more powerful than any that any design agency could come up with to convey their message. From these artworks, CDP generates slogans for T-shirts and artwork for posters and brochures that are used by organisations such as POWA to plead their case to Government.
Do you know that many female refugees who flee their homes for fear of their lives, only reach South Africa to be raped by the very people to whom they have turned for help?
Sitting in meetings talking about the plight of these people does little to alleviate their suffering in the real world. Many of the women who come to the centre are financially dependent on their abusive spouses and are not able to extricate themselves from the financial trap they are in.
This is where handcrafts bring hope. A woman can go out, gather a few basic raw materials, make product with her handwork and sell it for money. She can go through the whole cycle in a matter of days. Imagine how empowering a few hundred Rand can be for somebody in such a situation?
I trained at CDP Trust in 2008. In 2009 they were short on budget and I was not called in again to teach. I felt it would be a pity to allow the thing I had begun to fizzle out just because somebody told me there is a recession. I invited one of their trainers to a refresher course, on me, to keep the momentum going.
Nirupa invited me to their year end function to see what she did with that knowledge and how she passed it on to forty more women. I started sobbing when I walked into the wall-to-wall display of dyed garments and fabric. I cannot even begin to describe how I felt when I met a lady called Grace, who in a few weeks had gone from being unemployed, to being self-employed! She arrived at the event with a sack full of dyed T-shirts and fabrics that she had made. She is selling them in the community and she is feeling a new sense of empowerment. She says her children are particularly proud of her.
I am grateful that my work has led me to such an amazing life experience. Thank you Nirupa and Charlotte for doing such an amazing job.
Have a great day in full colour!
Kind regards

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