By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK The Windhoek Show opened its gates to the public last Friday and, as expected, has many stalls displaying a wide array of local and foreign-produced goods. For many visitors, the show offers a myriad of choices to buy or even just to window-shop for something that they desire. When the New Era team visited the showgrounds yesterday, people were drawn to the various exhibiting stalls, one of them selling the “Afro-Chic” products. Situated in one of the main halls, the Cane Craft Lighting business from South Africa offered uniquely-designed lamp stands at reasonable prices. Looking around, one notices that there’s a great pull towards naturally made goods. “They are ceiling lamps, wall lamps, table light ranges, floor lamps and up-lighters,” said the Head of Marketing, Erick Eckhard. Most of these products are made from seagrass, banana reeds and brightly-coloured beadwork, giving them that serene, natural look. “It’s called Afro-Chic” said Eckhard showing off one of the lamps he was holding in his hands. It turns out that the ethnic African type of field products or merchandise is very much sought after in Europe. Many African countries go back to their roots by making these natural products. This likeable trend is unlike in the past when there was no cultural feel or attraction for these goods. Lately, there has been a massive export to the international world of African-made furniture, spelling a unique liking for nature’s goods from the mother continent. Explaining more about the business, Eckhard said although it’s a South African self-help scheme for empowering the disadvantaged, plans are underway to sell this range in Namibia. Through arts and crafts of this nature, unemployed people learn how to weld, weave and eventually become trained in starting up their own businesses. “It’s five to six days of intense work and prices range from N$300 to N$2ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 500 each,” he added. Walking into the Health and Beauty Hall, one is engulfed by the pleasant aroma-therapeutic goods. At the stand of Shadonai Beauty School, (an internationally accredited school) are three young girls waiting to show you more about their work. What’s unique about this business is that it’s the first of its kind in Namibia where young people can learn how to give beautifying facials, massages, waxing and other therapeutic services to clients. First-year students Isabel Bacalhau, Natascha Reichstein and Marie Pieterse are all very excited about venturing into this career, knowing that they even study the very same course at home. Currently, there are five full-time students, 37 part-time, and 24 new students are expected to enrol next year. On the other hand, there are those organizations in the country that focus mainly on the disadvantaged sectors of the community, like the single mothers, the street kids and the homeless. One such organization, run by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, is the After-School Centre in Windhoek. Catering for between 200 and 250 street children and jobless mothers, the centre is geared towards offering counselling services, physco-social support for orphans and vulnerable children as well as sports and recreation. “We also offer income-generating projects to help unemployed single mothers,” explained Social Worker, Rachel Freeman, who was at the stand. “The money that is generated goes back to these mothers to buy food, clothing and other items for themselves and their children,” she added. The centre, which was established way back in 1994, lives up to its mission’s ideal of lifting the vulnerable out of poverty into self-reliance and social reintegration.
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