30 January 2013

Namibia: Ladies Doing It for Themselves

Windhoek — Three women living with HIV have decided to make matters into their own hands in search of a living by starting their own sewing and tailoring business.

They say they have had it with the constant discrimination and rejection they experience as people living with the deadly virus and that is why they decided to create their own business.

Although Kornelia Shaulwa was the first to get a job as a domestic worker, she was lucky because her employer Danielle Bruckert decided to teach her how to make dresses and blankets and to weave baskets for cats and dogs over weekends.

Shaulwa's mentor, "a sweet-hearted woman" and a good Samaritan used to sell the items Shaulwa made to supplement her income and to support her five children.

However, when Bruckert left Namibia, Shaulwa knew that she would have to fend for herself. "Although Bruckert has left she tried her best to provide me with six sewing machines to start up my own business. Unfortunately, I didn't have a place to operate from," said Shaulwa.

Thanks to her contacts she was able to rent space at the Aids Care Trust in Okuryangava. However, that was not the end of her troubles, because when she fell out with the owner of the place she had her six sewing machines confiscated, ostensibly because she did not adhere to the rules of the establishment.

"I contacted a relative of Bruckert to tell her the properties she gave me were confiscated.

"The relative told Bruckert who donated two other machines for me to restart my business," she said. She also approached two of her friends Jovitha Junias and Kaalina Ekandjo who are also living with HIV and trained them for the sewing project.

Since restarting her business Shaulwa has not looked back and is very confident about her future prospects. She says her client base, consisting mainly of European tourists, continues to expand and business is great. Most of her clients are referred to her by her mentor, Bruckert. Shaulwa and her two friends currently operate from the Penduka Centre in Greenwell Matongo close to Goreagab Dam and pay N$500 per month in rent, including water and electricity.

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