My name is Willard Musarurwa. I am a craftsmaker from Cape Town, and want to tell you about how Aid to Artisans has changed my life. You can watch my video , “How Does Aid to Artisans Make a Difference?” below.
Before meeting Aid to Artisans, I was sinking into deep trenches of desperation. Time was going by and I realized I had to make a living, sooner rather than later. I decided to be creative. When we were teenagers, we used to make cars, bicycles and animals for fun out of wire. This time, I did it to sell to tourists who come to Cape Town. It became my job although the income I generated was not sufficient, constant or regular, so I still couldn’t prepare a budget. I had to grow.
I decided to approach the Cape Crafts and Design Institute for assistance and luckily, I met Aid to Artisans and Stephen Burks, an American Designer. We designed a wire table. It took us 2 years to develop until it was accepted for an exhibition. The first time it hit the market, the product was hand picked by a U.S. distributor, Artecnica. I was able to use the income to start my own business, Feeling African, which has created jobs for 9 people and myself.
I will never forget when my tables were chosen as best product in South Africa at Design Indaba 2006, when they appeared in 20 South African magazines and twice in The New York Times, in Feb. 2007 and Feb. 2008. A short film was made for my product. We now have a studio to work in.
We still have a long way to go to make more products and to be more established with different business people and organizations. But I saw my dream come true and I will keep trying even harder.
Founded in 1976, Aid to Artisans is an international development nonprofit that helps craftsmakers around the world build income generating businesses in a culturally and environmentally sensitive manner. Over the past 10 years, Aid to Artisans has helped bring income to 125,000 artisans in 41 developing regions where livelihoods, communities and craft traditions are at risk. Aid to Artisans is currently working on several initiatives in countries including India and Colombia, where a civil war continues to ravage the Choco Region. To learn more and how you can help, go to: http://www.aidtoartisans.org/.