New Life from Dried Grass in Swaziland

“This epidemic is creating a nation of widows,” said an NGO worker in Swaziland, speaking of the AIDS crisis that has infected a quarter of the population in this tiny, landlocked nation. For families already living on the poverty line, to lose a husband and breadwinner means, literally, destitution.

Khetsiwe (below), a young Swazi widow, says that when her own husband died, her children couldn’t go to school. Even minimal school fees and supplies were impossible when she had no income, let alone feeding her family daily nutritious meals.

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Thankfully, Khetsiwe found Tintsaba – a fair trade enterprise that teaches new skills to widows and other vulnerable women in Swaziland, so that they can earn enough to support themselves and their families. “Tintsaba helped us out of a dark hole,” says Khetsiwe. “Before, we would just sit and do nothing.”

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Today, Khetsiwe is a master silversmith. Tintsaba taught her how to make high quality jewellery from silver and native sisal grass, which other women dry, clean (above, left), dye and weave into elegant, modern designs. Reflecting on her life today, full of dignity, purpose and a sense of belonging, Khetsiwe says to her customers around the world, “Thank you that you have put food on our table and given education to our children.”

You can buy the jewellery and ornaments made by Khetsiwe and her Tintsaba co-workers through Global Handicrafts’ online store.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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