Its no secret that our country is really struggling to meet the needs of all its people. We have issues within all levels of our education system, high unemployment rates, and a massive service delivery backlog. The fact that, while we have social welfare policies, we also support capitalist economic growth models and the myth of the trickle-down effect, does not do much to help the situation. This situation is especially dire in our country’s small towns, which have experienced economic decline alongside population growth and a heavy reliance on social welfare grants. It is, therefore, always so fantastic to hear about a skills development initiative that seeks to empower and encourage members of small town communities. Khanyi Designs is one of these initiatives.
Khanyi Designs was started by Clare Rothwell as a stress relief mechanism while she worked and lived in Johannesburg. Both ‘Khanyi’ and ‘Clare’ mean ‘light’ and, rather aptly, Clare’s first project was making a standard lamp. She upcycles everyday materials like plastic bottles, newspapers, toilet rolls and wire to make a wonderful array of home decor items. These include lamps, sculptures, fridge magnets, clocks, baskets and candle holders.
Clare moved to Bathurst and continued Khanyi Designs. In 2016, her mandate expanded when she started a training programme funded by the Department of Trade and Industry. The programme trained a group of local residents in design and the production of goods from recyclables. The aim was to provide local residents with skills they could use to generate an income. The programme and others like it, however, had few sustained results in the community. Clare would like to get funding for another course and use this to develop a more sustainable model for the programme, including skills in marketing and hospitality. This would have a great impact on the Bathurst community, which faces massive unemployment. The village has oriented itself towards the tourism industry and these skills are, therefore, vital within the local market.
If you would like to find out more about Khanyi Designs or purchase their home decor items, visit their Facebook page and Online Shop. They are also regulars at the SupUrban Market in Grahamstown. You can catch them there on Sunday, 14 May from 10.00 to 14.00.