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A Rotary-Mapula-Soroptimist International Collaboration

An annual visit to Lesotho is part of the Rotary Club of Pretoria Hatfield’s international outreach programme which they carry out together with the Rotary Club of Maloti Maseru. Two years ago Janetje van der Merwe was approached and asked whether Mapula Embroideries would be willing to get involved in doing a skills transfer with the women in Ramabanta, as with Lesotho in general, the unemployment rate is very high. A collaborative fund raiser between the Soroptimist International Pretoria-Tshwane and the Rotary club was very successful and enough funds were raised to cover the travel costs of two Soroptimists and two Mapula embroiderers plus materials.

After a 2-year Covid-19 delay, the Rotary Club of Pretoria Hatfield was once again able to travel to Lesotho to continue with their community projects in local schools in Ramabanta. The group stayed at the Ramabanta Trading Post Lodge, where the rooms opened on to the most heavenly vista of hills and rivers.

The embroidery workshop was facilitated by two members of Soroptimist International Pretoria-Tshwane, Janetje van der Merwe and Jose Vermeij, and two embroiderers from Mapula Embroideries, Pinky Resenga and Bertha Rengane. Each learner was given a pack containing fabric, thread, needles, a cellphone purse embroidered by the women of Mapula Embroideries and donated by SI Pretoria-Tshwane, a book of embroidery stitches and a pair of readers. The call was put out by local chief and Rotarian Matsobane Putsoa, and while the initial uptake on the first day was a bit disappointing, we had a full quota of 20 plus waiting eagerly the next morning.

While the project is aimed at skilling women, to our surprise and delight, the group of fifteen women was joined by four gents who enthusiastically tackled the embroidery samples. The oldest gentleman in the group could easily have been in his late 70s or 80s!

The project will be managed by the Rotary Clubs of Maseru Maluti and Pretoria Hatfield and it is hoped that we can grow it to become a sustainable income-generating project for people in the area.

Thank you SI Pretoria-Tshwane and Mapula Embroideries for helping us to get the project off the ground.

Written by Carol Allais (Rotarian)

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