Etafeni gives women financial muscle

Trainee Nangamso Bikitsha and Siphosethu Mdishwa shapening their sewing skills.

Caregivers and unemployed women in Nyanga and the surrounding areas have expressed their sincere gratitude to Etafeni Day Care Trust for equipping them with life-changing skills and improving their future prospects.

A total of 22 women have been equipped with beading and sewing skills, and were also taught to start and run their own small businesses through Etafeni’s six-month Wellness and Skills Development programme, which finished at the end of the month.

Etafeni development manager, Barbara Miller, said during the programme the mothers and caregivers developed a sense of self-worth by earning an income and learning how to care for themselves.

She explained that the programme also provided them with nutrition support, therapy and information about children’s rights and education initiatives. She added that they also equipped them with good parenting skills.

She said the women produce children’s clothes, toy animals, bags and table linen, which they sell.

Etafeni was established in 2001 to try and deal with the high prevalence of HIV infections, while the wellness programme was established in 2002 to provide skills and psycho-social support to the vulnerable.

The programme is funded by the City of Cape Town and Department of Social Development. It is targeted at women living in informal settlements such as Lotus Park, Enkanini in Khayelitsha and Philippi.

Ms Miller said unemployed and vulnerable women enter the programme without hope, but after receiving the training, their health improves and their dignity is restored. “Financial empowerment for women follows after skills development and the quality of life of the family improves.

“Empowerment of women spurs economic growth with consequential reduction of poverty. Women are vulnerable and need a great deal of counselling and support. They are at various stages of development and each person learns at their own pace,” she said.

Nothebele Mozwili of Khayelitsha was thrilled to have been part of the programme. Her main aim was to start a women’s initiative in her community and share the skills she had attained. Ms Mozwili, 55, said when she heard about the programme she encouraged her daughter to join. “I now see the world in a different view. I will no longer sit around in my house with nothing to do. I have thought at this age I would never acquire skills to better my life,” she said.

Ms Mozwili said she had not intended starting a business but she wanted to have a skill and encouraged other women at her age to learn new things. She believed that there was still a lot that needs to be done to empower women, particularly those who were jobless.

Ms Miller said they would like to continue providing the service to the community of Nyanga and urged more people to join.

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