Rural women benefit from traditional crafts

31 October 2018 | Local News

Many rural women in the north are hard at work to earn an income and provide for their household needs.

Maria Simeon-Nghiitombo (71) from Eembidi village in the Ohangwena Region earns an additional income from weaving to supplement her monthly N$1 200 state pension and take care of her great-grandchildren.

Simeon-Nghiitombo weaves makalani leaves to produce bags and milk containers.

She says she learned to weave baskets at a youthful age, but later she discovered how to weave containers for storing milk at farms and cattle posts.

“When I started it was just for fun because all the girls of my age were also doing it. My late husband had cattle and sometimes we needed a calabash to store and churn milk to produce butter.

“Normally these calabashes grow on seasonal gourd plants, but sometimes they get scarce. It was from this background that I started trying to make them from makalani leaves,” Simeon-Nghiitombo says.

“After several trials I later perfected them. As we started using them we discovered that these calabashes are stronger than the usual ones.

Milk and butter make them stronger and they can last for a lifetime. Many people started asking me to produce for them.”

Simeon-Nghiitombo says she started out making smaller containers, but now she only produces 50-litre containers that she sells for N$1 000.

She can weave two of these containers in a month, working mainly at night when all is quiet and there are no disturbances.

“My grandchildren are very supportive as they always make sure I eat. I weave in the morning when they are at school.

After dinner I continue again until around 01:00. I sleep and wake up at 03:00 to continue again. To get more energy I drink coffee most of the time,” she says.

After finishing her products she sells them at the Eenhana Multi-Purpose Youth Resource Centre, where the demand is high.

“I produce two calabashes a month and they are in demand. The only problem is that people do not want to pay N$1 000.

They are always asking for discounts, which is not good for our economic growth,” she says.

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