This is the VOA Special English Development Report.
Every three weeks, a truck drives to a
rural community in the Kingdom of Swaziland.
The purpose of the trip is to buy the hand-made products of local women
and place new orders.
The Swazi women make and sell woven
baskets, placemats for dinner tables and other objects for the home. The women gained their weaving skills long
ago. Traditionally, women in the African
nation work with long grasses to make the thatched roofs that cover houses.
manufacture of goods is important for the women because they can do this at
home. Many care for a number of
children, including those whose parents died of AIDS. Swaziland is said to have the highest known rate
of infection for the virus that causes the disease.
life is brighter for the women weavers today than it was seventeen years ago. That is when a business project called Gone
Rural was launched. Today, more than
seven hundred women take their goods to Gone Rural for sale. One of their main materials is Lutindzi grass,
which grows only in mountain areas. Gone
Rural also has some products available in other materials.
The project now has sales of five
hundred thousand dollars worth of goods each year. The goods are sold in more than thirty
countries around the world.
years ago, Gone Rural started a nonprofit organization called Gone Rural
boMake. Its purpose is to provide for the
educational, health and social needs of the women and their communities. The parent organization gives Gone Rural
boMake at least twenty percent of its profits and helps with administrative
costs. The non-profit organization's
projects include working to provide communities with clean drinking water.
Lomtandaso Hlope was one of the first seven hundred women
to weave for Gone Rural. Years ago, she
and other women from her community went to the Gone Rural office in the town of
Malkerns. They showed their goods to
Jenny Thorne, who established Gone Rural. Miz Thorne happily accepted what they made.
Lomtandaso Hlope and her friends have been
selling to Gone Rural ever since. Their
community is among thirteen that sell to the group. She has educated her own children and grandchildren
with the money earned from her work.
VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jerilyn Watson. I'm Steve Ember.