The Big Story....... Our journey changes lives
Celebrating our story
Recently, while hiking down Table Mountain among the most beautiful wildflowers, I thought back over the last few months. The flowers were exquisite, some growing through the ashes left behind by a previous fire that ravaged the fynbos on Table Mountain.
Back in June, I told one of my colleagues that the struggle to find consistent work for all our projects was taking its toll on myself and my family. I felt I couldn’t continue in this way for long. The next week, however, kicked off with the Woolworths Visual Merchandising team’s inquiry about the possibility of our creating flowers for their Christmas window. The outcome was uncertain, but I decided to go ahead anyway because I knew that if we went for it, there would be a dream team behind us.
Months of collaboration followed. We had to rework their original design suggestions to incorporate recycled materials. The hardest part was definitely the collection and cleaning of over 10 000 units of 2l milk bottles, water containers and cutlery. This plastic waste was collected at the Woolworths Head Office, neighbouring schools, recycling and sorting facilities and via social media appeals and neighbourhood newsletters, from informal settlements to Constantia.
Here is a picture of one of our volunteer’s appeals to neighbours and friends to drop off used milk and water containers. Were it not for this kind of support, completing this massive project would have been impossible.
We set weekly targets for collecting and washing bottles. The washing team soon worked out that vinegar is a magic cleaning liquid that also gets rid of the sour milk smell.
We had to create five different types of flowers over three months. The hardest design was the King Protea, the number of which took over a month to complete.
Projects like these are certainly not without challenges! We survived two major floods in the buildings we hired for the project and had to evacuate one of them. This meant we had to move three times during this time!
The finished flowers were packed into boxed and labelled, then sent to the top fifteen premieres Woolworths stores around the country. The most challenging chapter of this story was the safe transportation of the giant proteas. These were so big that only three fitted in the transport vehicle at a time.
This amazing, challenging and rewarding flower project was a collaboration between the staff of essay GIFTS and Kidz Positive. A team of about 20 ladies worked non-stop on this project. Nonceba was the first lady from the Kidz Positive beadwork project to step forward and offer her help. She said that she always wanted to be in charge of something and this was the opportunity she always longed for. She was a star and completely committed to the project.
Part of the reward for me, on a personal level, is to witness the increase in these women’s confidence and self-belief as their skills grow. We took all the people involved to see the completed display at the Woolworths model store in Canal Walk to witness their hard work, lit up with coloured lights.
Watching their reaction reminded me of the beautiful Watsonias rising from the ashes on Table Mountain. Click here to see the video of the reaction of the ladies. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5ZwMcmy9XE