Masekhethele – Transformative Threads
From Bottles to Bags, the story of Masekhethele is an incredible journey of transforming waste, and lives, across South Africa
Across South Africa, and the world, are a group of courageous women known as the waste collectors, who choose to change the journey of a bottle. They search high and low for recyclables that can be transformed into a source of limitless creative potential. Masekhethele was inspired and motivated by the women Waste Collectors of Phalaborwa, South Africa, who get up every day and choose to create a better life for themselves, for their families, their communities, and even you and me.
Moved by the sight of the women waste collectors who worked in the sweltering heat and under dire health conditions, two old friends, Judy Henshall (Siyavuma Foundation NPO) and Willy Ramoshaba (Thinavhuuo Recycling) put their heads to together to find a way of turning the waste collecting into entrepreneurial adventure for the women of Phalaborwa together with informal sewing groups, under the Umbrella of Siyavuma Foundation NPO.Together the two friends gave birth to Masekhethele. Masekhethele means “ Making a Personal Choice” in most African languages.
I have had the pleasure of working with Judy at the Siyavuma foundation for the past 3 years. We had the opportunity to supply 3000 bags to the Mana Project based in America. 2000 of these bags were made from recycled PET material, the quality of the bags was fantastic and attention to detail unparrelled. A percentage of the proceeds on every job are paid to the woman waste pickers to enable them to become self sustainable by growing their own food gardens. All the sewers are also paid a fair wage for the manufacture of the bags. It is really inspiring to see the creativity being borne out of the landfills.The best part of being involved with Siyavuma and Masekhethele is the way they care about the Waste Pickers and informal sewers -Their number 1 priority – everything revolves around job creation and helping people become self-sustainable. They are an inspiration and never stop looking for and adding opportunity for those less fortunate.It is an honour to be able to work with such an inspiring group of people and I hope to have the privilege of doing so for many more years to come.