Single mothers make a living from shells

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Walvis Bay

Creating traditional jewellery and beads from seashells and ostrich eggshells is turning out to be a viable means of generating income for a group of women at the coast.

But despite the painstaking work involved in the craft, the women are able to provide for their families.
This group of committed and determined women at Walvis Bay regard bead-making as their only source of income, since the unemployment rate is very high at the coastal town.

The ten women since 2013 have proudly run the fully registered business under which the bead-making is registered , Pitula Mukweni Investment, from Tutaleni township.

They are so dedicated to their craft that they spend hours collecting the seashells before polishing them to perfection. The ostrich eggshells they buy from suppliers. The simple but much sought-after product is sold to tourists who throng the coast.

According to the women who work from the Erongo Rural Constituency office in Tutaleni, life has been hard especially since most of them are single parents with the huge responsibility of being the breadwinners.
The 62-year-old Monica Shiwandu says that although bead-making is time-consuming, they have no other means of feeding and clothing their families.

“Some of us were unemployed and were just at home. In actual fact we were doing beads from home. We approached the rural councillor, John Nangolo, for assistance and he suggested that we organise ourselves in a group,” said Shiwandu.

But she says it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain raw materials as others have cottoned on to the business and are also collecting shells.

She says that the price of ostrich eggshells has increased tremendously over the years. “People now see it as a lucrative business and have increased the price, however we have no choice but to buy from them.”
Shiwandu says that although the income is not that great, they are indeed appreciative of what they earn, which also enables them to send their children to school.

“It is hard work but we are trying, while the council has been very supportive.”
They would also like to venture into handmade craft, dressmaking and cleaning services in future.

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