Tourism transforming lives in the Midlands Meander advertorial

2015-09-29 06:00
Photo: supplied
Mbongiseni Zulu.

Photo: supplied Mbongiseni Zulu.

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FROM kitchens to crafts and beyond: inspiring success stories of community empowerment through tourism on the Midlands Meander.

Furniture-crafter Siyabonga Duma and the Impumelelo Bead Artists are the first participants to benefit from the Midlands Meanderand#039;s empowerment initiative, the Midlands Meander Emerging Artist/Crafter Project. The project aims to increase the number and diversity of the Meanderand#039;s artists and crafters by providing opportunities for previously disadvantaged people with a high standard of work to join the Meander and benefit from its marketing expertise, accredited skills training workshops and from ongoing business mentoring.

Although this particular project has only been in place for a year, the Midlands Meander Association has a long history of providing opportunities for employment creation, mentorship and empowerment.

An initiative at Groundcover encourages local women to work at their own pace from home and sell the finished leather footwear at the Groundcover shop, helping them to continue their role as mothers and homemakers while earning an income. Owner Amanda McCarthy says, and#034;Our policy is to employ local folk: train them, treat them well, pay them well and they will be with you for the long run.and#034;

Gaining confidence in the kitchen can be a recipe for success, as Mbongiseni Makhaye at ZuluWaters Game Reserve discovered. Makhaye was given basic kitchen training when he started working at ZuluWaters in 2007. In 2011, the Reserve underwent a major management shift, with Makhaye thrown somewhat into the deep-end as private chef and host for the 5-Star Shaka Lodge. He has flourished under this responsibility and has been featured in a number of magazines and articles.

Lesley Terwin, ZuluWatersand#039; Office and Lodge Manager, says, and#034;The majority of our guests make mention of Mbongiseni, his wonderful smile, welcoming nature and superb cooking. Mbongiseniand#039;s favourite saying is and#039;why not?and#039; and this truly reflects how he is - nothing is too much of a problem in order to make our guests have a memorable stay with us.and#034;

The world-famous Ardmore Ceramic Art studio owes a great deal of its success to Bonnie Ntshalintshali, the daughter of artist Fée Halstedand#039;s housekeeper. Ntshalintshaliand#039;s polio meant that she was unable to work in the fields, but her natural skills as an artist blossomed under Halstedand#039;s mentorship. The pair was awarded the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist Award. With this success came the demands of creating ceramics for their exhibition, so Halsted offered other local women the opportunity to train at Ardmore.

Today, the artists from the Ardmore studio are given training, direction, materials, a studio and a guaranteed market for their work, supported by a skilled marketing and administrative team. Ardmore has always had an open-door policy towards people who want develop their creative talent and earn a sustainable income through art. CONTINUED ON PAGE 11

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