Phindile is 31 years old and started with Bundubags in January 2012. She was previously unemployed. Phindile’s lack of education (she left school in Grade 10) meant that she was unable to find work in an already overstretched marketplace. Bundubags has been a life saver as she is now able to support her two children and her mother with the income she generates from making bags.
‘This project has helped me a lot. Without it I wouldn’t be able to survive.
‘I fell pregnant at 18 with my first child, a son who is mentally disabled. When he was born the doctors told me there was something wrong with him as he didn’t cry after the birth, even when they smacked his feet. They asked me how I felt. Most people would be crying “Why me, why me?”, but I just said “Thank you God’. The doctors were surprised. I am grateful for my son and for everything in my life. I have a daughter too. My son goes to a school for the mentally challenged called Nokuthula, and after school my mother looks after him until I get home.
‘When I get home I cook supper for the family, do the washing and ironing and clean the house.
‘I have so much faith. I thank God for everything. My dream is that Bundubags grows bigger and bigger, like a big factory.’
Nomageba left school at the age of 16 owing to a lack of finances and a teenage pregnancy. She lives with her unemployed parents in Alexandra. Nomageba came to the project a year ago and in spite of her young age (19) she has displayed leadership qualities and earned the respect of the other bag makers, and has recently been appointed as a trainer. She oversees the making of the bags, supervises quality control and ensures that things run smoothly. On first meeting her she seems shy and reserved, though her fellow bag makers are adamant she is ‘like a lion’ in action! Her feistiness becomes evident when she shouts instructions at the top of her voice and confidently calls everyone to order.
Her family is originally from the Eastern Cape, the most poverty-stricken province in South Africa, but came to Johannesburg in search of work and a better life. Due to her lack of education and poor English-speaking skills, Nomageba has little chance of finding a job in the competitive marketplace. She is extremely grateful for the opportunity to earn an income at Bundubags, and to put her natural leadership qualities to good use.
Maria is 46 years old has been at Bundubags for a year. She has five children, four of whom live with her in Alexandra and the youngest (5) lives with her mother in a rural village in Limpopo. Maria struggles to speak English and so an interpreter relates her story.
‘I am so grateful to Bundu. My husband has had no job since he was retrenched two years ago. He is a welder. He leaves the house every morning to go and look for work, but finds nothing. With my income from making bags I am able to buy school uniforms for my children, food and clothes. I send money home to my mother every month and the rest I use to buy clothes or food – mealie meal, rice, samp, chicken’s feet, cabbage, or whatever we need to live on.
I need this job, I am very grateful.’