FEEL GOOD | Meet the woman who's trained 3 000 people to make carpets from scratch amid the pandemic

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Reitumetse Molapo. Image supplied
Reitumetse Molapo. Image supplied
  • Reitumetse Molapo teaches people her skills of tapestry, which she learnt in Tanzania.
  • So far, she has trained over 3000 people.
  • She believes in empowering people, and teaching them financial independence.

32-years-old Reitumetse Molapo used her lockdown period to start equipping South Africans with her tapestry skill. 

It was in 2017 when Reitumetse met artists in Tanzania and fell in love with tapestry. "In 2017, a couple of friends and I went to Tanzania on a trip, while there, we came across a group of vendors who were making various handmade items, from beaded sandals to bags," she says.

"But one of them caught my eye, she had a crotchet in her hands and was making a mat, yes, a mat, it was an eye-opener for me. It was love at first sight. I asked her to teach me, and I came home with the skill."

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Reitumetse Molapo

Reitumetse Molapo took advantage of the lockdown to teach people how to make mats. All images supplied by Reitumetse Molapo

She started making her own carpets at home towards the end of 2017, and her breakthrough was when Covid-19 happened in 2020, and a lot of people lost their jobs. She thought of changing lives and empowering people. So she started teaching how to make mats from scratch.

"I just woke up and decided I wanted to tell my story through tapestry, I wanted to tell my story through art, so I started small by teaching the 1st group, which showed interest in my craft," she says.

"The numbers grew, and before I knew it, I had trained over 3000 people. The numbers don't really matter but the impact which tapestry has brought to the lives of the people I've trained so far." 

mats by Reitumetse

Reitumetse explains that she was motivated by people who wake up every day and dedicate their lives to helping others. Legends like BI Phakathi and the late Nelson Mandela inspire her to keep going.

READ MORE | Local business owner on embracing her femininity in a male-dominated industry

"The journey has been sweeter than sweet, waking up every day knowing that I have touched thousands of lives through my craft and knowing I have helped people become financially independent through tapestry is the greatest of blessings," she says.

Reitumetse says that people are loving the idea of making their own custom-made carpets. They also like the fact that it helps them become financially independent.

Tapestry, mats by Reitumetse

However, Reitumetse has come across people who are allergic to wool and those who are impatient. They say the best things come to those who are patient. But she does not let any of these challenges get her off.

mats by Reitumetse

READ MORE | 27-year-old Thato Moagi owns a thriving 50-hectare Limpopo farm despite facing ageism and sexism

"This is a continuous venture, I will be going to Limpopo, Durban, and Cape Town soon. My work is far from being over, not with such high numbers of unemployment.

"With every training, I conduct, and seeing people receive tapestry the way they do leaves me overwhelmed with gratitude. I am currently on the lookout for sponsors, and I am hoping to open my own factory and employ over 3 000 people to help curb unemployment," she says.

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