Making gold from glitter

2011-08-02 00:00

IN an article in the New York Times, Marshall Ganz, the man who helped shape Barack Obama’s election campaign, was quoted as saying: “Young people have an almost biological destiny to be hopeful.”

He could have been talking about the teenagers taking part in the Jewels of Hope project in Phayiphini. Hope for the future is precisely what members of the Prestbury Methodist Church have instilled in two groups of youngsters, aged between 12 and 16 years old.

Those involved in the project, who have either been orphaned by the HIV/Aids pandemic or are living in vulnerable circumstances because of it, are taught to make jewellery. And, their beautiful beaded necklaces and bracelets have been snapped up by buyers both at home and abroad, giving them the money to pay for food, school uniforms and other necessities.

Project convenor Diana Coke said the programme not only helps the teenagers to build life and even business skills, but also boosts their self-esteem. “As well as learning, they are capable of creating something beautiful with the extra income they earn. They feel less of a burden to their ­often extremely poor families,” she added.

Speaking to one of the participants in the project, Siyabonga*, during a visit to the Phayiphini community, it’s clear that the teenagers have a real sense of pride in their work.

“It makes you feel good when you finish a piece of jewellery,” he said, adding that they were learning how to handle money, and to have the confidence to start their own businesses when they leave school.

The participants in this Christian-based project are also encouraged to save some of the money they earn, which they can then use to buy special items, like cellphones, and to enjoy a holiday or outing. Recently, they enjoyed a week-long break at the Hibberdene Children’s Holiday Home, spending time with participants from the Jewels of Hope project in Maseru and Ladybrand.

But what’s both humbling and ­inspiring, is hearing what some of the teenagers have saved and are saving money for. Coke revealed that one young man, Luyanda, had saved R750, which he used to buy new roof irons and a door for the house his gran is building. This purchase followed several smaller ones he’d made for poles for the wattle-and-daub house. Another youngster, ­Nkoskhona — who was born on election day in 1994 and whose nickname is “Mvoti” — told her he planned to use his savings to help him once he left school.

When I visited Jewels of Hope last month, Siyabonga’s group was busy making colourful beaded lanyards for participants in the World Methodist Conference. It’s an unusual commission, which saw them using more traditional African beadwork.

Normally, the teenagers create jewellery from large ceramic and glass beads and semi-precious stones. Each quarter they receive new patterns and stock and, under the mentorship of a trainer, create new necklaces, bracelets, and even hairclips and keyrings to sell.

Coke has several enthusiastic supporters selling the work overseas, and hopes to get new converts during the World Methodist Conference, which takes place from Thursday to Monday at the International Convention Centre in Durban.

Jewels of Hope is one of two KwaZulu-Natal NGOs that have been asked to man a stall to showcase both what they do and to sell jewellery made by the teenagers to the delegates travelling to South Africa from around the world.

• For more information about Jewels of Hope, log on to www.jewelsofhope.org and to find out more about the Phayiphini project in particular, phone Diana Coke at 083 651 4963 or e-mail PMC.JoH@gmail.com

• Please note: The children’s surnames have not been published, at the ­request of Jewels of Hope.

Jesus Christ and the healing of nations

THE World Methodist Conference is a gathering for Wesleyan and Methodist Christians from around the world, where talks on various topics concerning faith are addressed.

This assembly convenes every five years, and this year’s event marks the 20th gathering of the Methodist-Wesleyan family from 74 member churches, representing more than 132 countries. This year’s theme is Jesus Christ, for the healing of nations.

Dr Mvume Dandala, the former bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa and the general secretary of All African Council of Churches, will be one of the speakers at the conference.

And on Sunday afternoon, there will be a street parade through the streets of Durban, culminating at the Durban City Hall, and will involve delegates and guests. The public is invited to participate in the procession.

For more information visit www.worldmethodistcouncil.org

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