Disabled Community Members Empowered Through Sewing Project | Western Cape Government


Disabled Community Members Empowered Through Sewing Project

20 July 2010

Today the Minister of Local Government, Anton Bredell, visited his department's Community Development Workers' (CDWs) sewing project in Langa. The aim of his visit was to highlight the impact this project is making on the lives of disabled members of this community.

Welile Mbonjwa, a CDW based in Langa, is the coordinator of this project, which employs seventeen (17) disabled people (men and women) and two volunteers who all reside in Langa. Mbonjwa is also the founder of Masincedane Association For The Physically Disabled (a non profit organisation). In 2007 Mbonjwa identified a need to empower his fellow disabled community members with a set of skills in order to become self-reliant and network with each other.

This project equips nineteen (19) community members with sewing, leatherwork and wiring skills, empowering them to receive a stable income instead of relying on hand-outs to get by.

Mbonjwa approached organisations to assist with funding for start-up capital. Eskom and the Department of Social Development responded positively with donations of R 93 000 and R 19 000 respectively.

The team received training from the Mpumalanga Training College (lecturers conducted the training in Cape Town), and today produce leather jackets, school uniforms, shoes, tracksuits and other clothing. The group generates an income by selling these items door to door in the community. They hope to secure a market stall in the future to expand the sales of their products and attract tourists.

Local government is effective when community members are actively involved in their community's social and economic upliftment. Minister Bredell says, "This community sewing project is exactly what our country needs - people who fend for themselves and also help those who have less than them."

"It has been a dream come true to be able to change the lives of fellow disabled people in my community. Previously the community did not take us seriously. Today we are successful, skilled business people. Each member of our group feels they now have a purpose in life and are no longer bored at home all day. Through this project we now have an environment to share the problems we as disabled people are faced with," says Mbonjwa.

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