Natural Riches and Wide Open Spaces – South African Thoughts and Memories Part 2

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When traveling you often find many opportunities to donate to programs that are actually based for support in your destination. While I was in South Africa, I came across many of these opportunities to support various groups and charities and I wanted to highlight a few that are doing great things for the wildlife and the people of this amazing country.

RhinoForce

93.4% of all of Africa’s RHINOS are in South Africa. RHINO FORCE in union with other committed corporations leads the fight against the plague of RHINO poaching. Profits from lovely beaded bracelets go to the Endangered Wildlife Trust and are used to fight Rhino poaching through projects solely focused on saving the RHINO population.

One War We Can’t Afford To Lose.

Beautiful Creatures Music Video

Kalahari Beads Project

Kalahari Spa has initiated the Kalahari Beads Project in conjunction with various Khoi San communities in the Kalahari Desert. These communities make delicate traditional Ostrich Egg Shell Beads and in turn they commission a good number of disadvantaged women to assemble these unique bracelets for them.

The proceeds from these bracelets goes towards supporting participating Khoi San families in Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. The Kalahari Bead Project helps to raise awareness and to bring a better understanding, appreciation and respect for the Khoi San – the real people whose language and traditions are being lost.

I purchased mine while visiting the amazing Cape Grace Hotel in Capetown and wish I could have brought home many more of this great fundraising and culture preserving initiative.

One of my favourites is Monkey Biz, as I had been made aware of them a few years ago at a travel trade event I had attended hosted by GoWay. The amazing wire bodies that were hand beaded to form not only animals but people where amazing and I promised myself that if I ever got to Capetown I would look them up and go into the shop. Currently we are having conversations to perhaps one day soon, incorporate some of their goods for purchase through my company AYA Life to help continue the support that this company does.

MONKEYBIZ BEAD PROJECT SOUTH AFRICA

 http://www.monkeybiz.co.za/

Monkeybiz South Africa, is a nonprofit income-generating bead project started in January 2000.

Through creating various sustainable employment, Monkeybiz focuses on women’s economic empowerment and health development in the most economically under-resourced areas of South Africa.

The project, which has established a vibrant community of more than 450 bead artists, many of whom are the sole moneymakers in their households, has transformed the large beaded arts market in South Africa. Departing from the culture of mass-production curio craft, each Monkeybiz artwork is unique,signed by the artist, ensuring that individual artists receive recognition for their work. They provide their artist’s community with beads and all of the material that is needed for the making of the bead art for free. The company also invests in skills development, entrepreneurship and self – employment with their artists.

All of the profits from the sales of the artworks are reinvested back into local community services, including but not limited to the weekly soup kitchens, restorative yoga, drama , and also a burial fund for the artists and their families.

A Brief History: Historically, bead work, in a South African context, has been the domain of women largely within the Xhosa, Zulu, Ndebele and Sotho communities. The women are introduced to the craft directly through their mothers, grandmothers and other women in the community. Up until more recently, the oldest bead found in Africa was dated to roughly 10,000 BC. Excavated in the Kalahari Desert on the northern border of South Africa, it was chipped from the thick shell of an ostrich egg. Then, in 2004, the archaeologist Chris Henshilwood found marine shells and ostrich egg shells at Blombos Cave (Late Stone Age site on the south coast near Cape Town) that are at least 20,000 years old and had in all likelyhood been beads on a necklace.

Beads became integral to the Zulu society. In a non-literate culture, beading developed a whole language of symbolism to communicate messages of love, devotion and betrayal. The famous Zulu ‘love letters’ (which are tab pendants made by eligible young women and offered as coded tokens to the unmarried men) was one of the first pieces I ever owned to introduce me to the beading of the continent of Africa. It is one of many pieces I now own and have on display in my home – to be shared and seen not locked away – the work is so often beyond amazing!

Make sure you do some research and talk to the people if they have a storefront about how they source their goods and how they support their artists who create so many interesting items. But definitely take the moment and the minimal dollars to support the locals and as much or as little as you can do is always appreciate.

Giving back is a very wonderful thing and having great causes to support can lift your spirits and theirs like nobody’s business!

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