The Masithandane Women’s Group Project, in Grahamstown East – “the Township” – developed from the work done by the Feeding Division of the area Distress Relief Association. In return for food, women salvage materials such as discarded plastic bags, which form the basis of crocheted articles such as mats, bags and hats. From this came a revival of traditional Xhosa beadwork, clothing and grasswork, as well as papier-maché furniture.

A skills group has been formed, to develop and pass on the training to others, and the market has expanded. The area has no large industries, and such co-operative working will enable more of the 80% unemployed to enter the work force and gain for themselves further instruction in the vital elements of urban living.

Based in Grahamstown, the Masithandane Women’s Group has built a thriving business from the most basic of modern materials – discarded plastic.

Strips of plastic are plaited and woven into hats, mats, bags, bowls and baskets, bringing some income and independence to the women who have successfully marketed their products. Jewellery items, using traditional Xhosa patterns, are also popular.

Two women working on the weaving loom at Thakurpukur, Kolkata

Access to health check ups in Thakurpukur, Kolkata

Kolkata – where it all started. Aroti Dutt (front second from left), the dedicated committee chair, and behind her Chitra Gosh, her successor