Empowering women through employment among those affected by HIV/AIDS in the Shiselweni region of Swaziland.
The word “Bambanani” means “supporting one another for a better tomorrow or “holding hands” in the SiSwati language. The groups formed by the project will provide a social and emotional support network for the women (and some men) involved, and the crafts created will be made by hand.
The Bambanani project was started in March, 2010, by volunteers from the NGO “Caring for Shiselweni” with assistance from other local organizations, namely Pasture Valley (Pty) Ltd and Shiselweni Reformed Church Home based care.
Bambanani Project Description and Objectives
- To provide training and support in business and health related areas to 100 women and caregivers affected by HIV in the Shiselweni region of Swaziland over a period of 5 years.
- To provide 100 women and caregivers with skills training in traditional and non-traditional handicrafts.
- To create a network of 5 women and caregiver’s groups to provide emotional support for each other and hope for the widowed.
- To provide girls and women with training on their sexual and reproductive rights and to make them aware of local resources that can provide additional support.
- To create a market for traditional and non-traditional handicrafts so that women and caregivers participating in the project will have a source of income with which they can support themselves and their families.
- To bring the love of Christ to these people and provide hope and a sense of self-worth as confidence is gained as the skills are perfected.
Bambanani currently supports two groups of 25 – 30 volunteer home based care providers, with a third group scheduled to begin in November, 2011. The use of recycled materials such as paper, plastic, grass and seeds is emphasized which the participants have turned into useful and wearable art. For four days each week, these tireless caregivers are truly the “hands and feet of God” as they care for those individuals in their communities who are living with HIV/AIDS, TB and other related illnesses. Then, one day a week they meet to support and fellowship with one another while sharing ideas, designs and quality of the handicrafts they have made in their homes. Once a month, volunteer administrators from Pasture Valley visit each group to purchase the crafts at an agreed upon price and then market them both locally and abroad.
The income from your purchase goes directly into the Bambanani project funds for supplies and future development. A portion of the proceeds is set aside as seed money for future groups. We aim to gradually give administrative power to each Bambanani group, so that they can become self-sufficient businesses. One sale at a time, we are making a difference by empowering these volunteer caregivers with a sustainable source of income and improved self-worth. Thank you for your interest, support and prayers.
About Caring for Shiselweni
Caring for Shiselweni, a non-governmental organization (NGO), was first registered in Swaziland in 2005. The organization’s objectives are:
- To make a social and economic impact on the poverty-stricken Shiselweni region of Swaziland by combining the resources of local people and various organizations.
- To care for and uplift orphans, sex workers, street children, drug abusers, disabled, elderly, youth, abused children and HIV-affected people.
The directors of Caring for Shiselweni have both government and private sector experience relevant to the implementation of this project.
According to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, 42.6% of women seeking ante-natal care in Swaziland were HIV-positive, earning Swaziland the undesirable distinction of having the highest rate of HIV infection in the world. Though the country is experiencing a generalized epidemic, the virus disproportionately affects women in Swaziland due to biological, cultural and economic factors. Women aged 10 to 35 years have markedly higher infection rates than men in the same age group, and women statistically become infected with HIV earlier in life than do men. Most alarmingly, many of these women who are infected with HIV in their early adulthood are primary caregivers for one or more children who will eventually be orphaned by AIDS.
By starting the Bambanani project, Caring for Shiselweni and its directors and volunteers hope to alleviate some of the hardships that women and men are experiencing by providing training, opportunities to sell and market crafts to generate an income. The group members have a sense of pride in their work and tell us that at least they are now able to buy bread and candles to take home.