Fabric of hope

The residents of Hatcliffe Extension in Harare create tie-dyed and batiked clothing in rich jewel tones and craft shoes and other leather goods.  As they do, they begin to restore their livelihoods and move away from dependence on international aid organizations.

In 2008, the American Friends Service Committee began to work with Silveira House, Zimbabwe Women’s Bureau, and other non-governmental organizations to improve the living standard of 1,200 vulnerable households in the Hatcliffe Extension area. 

The community has been affected by two displacements in two years, a result of the government’s “Operation Clean Up,” where houses that didn’t meet certain standards were demolished by the local housing authority.  This hit Hatcliffe Extension hard, since the town lacks running water and electricity.

But AFSC and its partners faced a huge challenge: The presence of a number of food-aid organizations made some community members unwilling to participate in the program.

The solution: Form a network of all the organizations working in the area and offer a coordinated approach.

Training for the residents includes the technical skills involved in making the product – for example, designing, cutting, and structure.  This is followed by a business management course.

The goods are sold within Hatcliffe and in neighboring suburbs and farms.  Efforts are also under way to create other markets.