On Middelpos farm, we hope to create an alternative rural economy in order to provide independence to rural farm families and restore human dignity. However, creating an alternative rural economy when you have very few resources and limited capacity remains a huge challenge. Despite this, in a short space of two years, we have noticed some significant changes in the mothers of the rural farm children on Middelpos and the 9 surrounding farms. They are beginning to experience what living a dignified life means.
One of our methods for doing this is our sewing project. With the support of Distell Development Trust, we began this project with four women on Middelpos farm by first teaching them basic literacy and numeracy before teaching them how to use sewing machines and begin to create accessories and items of clothing.
In less than a year, we saw women drinking less excessively, experiencing much less domestic violence, learning additional skills and growing in confidence. The small group of 4 women has steadily grown, and we now have 21 women who can sew, print on various items, show affection to their children, and grow food with their own hands.
As the group has grown, we have noticed that rural farm women are beginning to understand their role within their community better. It has become more normal to hug their children, as well as encourage them and protect them against the challenges of the environment that they grow up in. We have seen more mothers that are sober over the weekends than ever before, and less incidences of gender-based violence are occurring.
The women have made nearly R5,000 from the sales of their handiwork. To many this may be very little, but to us it means the world. It is so much more than generating an income for the poor and vulnerable; it is about creating a safe space to help restore human dignity that will last for ever.