The projects Sport Relief fund out here in Tanzania provide mentoring, coaching, technical and business training to women in three areas – food production, textiles and soap making. Today we were incredibly lucky to meet Eliafura, a batik artist. She tells me her name means happiness, can you guess why?
I’m sure you are keen to see how that beautiful blue piece of batik was made? Well here goes, it was hot, I was busy chatting to Eliafura and trying to take photos and capture the sights and sounds in a video which is embedded at the bottom of this post, but I will try to do her stunning work justice, forgive any technical errors!
Welcome to her factory, it is a small shack at the end of her garden, there is a sheltered bench for preparing the material and a shed for storing her materials. Eliafura has trained 4 women in Batik, helping to create #lastingchange
Eliafura buys patterened sponges at a market. She dips it in hot wax before applying it to the fabric to create a pattern. The sponges have lovely, intricate patterns which Forestina neatly repeats in straight lines across the fabric.Today she is showing a neighbour Louisa how to make Batik, a kind of apprentice. I ask Louisa why she wants to learn and she says she needs to be able to support her family, her children are always asking for more money, there is never enough.
We may only be able to speak through a translator, but I can read the desparation in her body language. I can see the eagerness in her eyes when we say we want to buy some Batik and they don’t have as much as we are willing to buy, she immediately wants to know when we have to leave Tanzania so she can make us more. Eliafura dons her safety gear before adding chemicals to set the dye. Technical training through the Gatsby Trust ensures the women keep healthy and safe at work. All the women we met today had a strong sense of this. The dye she had chosen was a stunning blue.The dye and chemical are added to waterEliafura adds the fabric to the mix.Look at the gorgeous colour.She hangs the batik up on the washing line for 10 minutes. I love this picture. Aly asked me earlier to choose one picture to sum up Tanzania and I chose this one – lush green trees, creative skill, vibrant colour and inspirational women creating #lastingchange. Eliafura looks rightly proud of her achievement.She is also proud of her children, her eldest two are boarding at school. All accounts from the men and women we speak to of state schools here in Tanzania are pretty damming and they aren’t free, so for these women helping their children get even the most basic education requires money.
Building a business and a decent income enables them to buy an education that will help their children fulfil their potential, passing on #lastingchange through the generations.
Eliafura’s niece is visiting, she speaks in confident American, having studied abroad, and is about to start an MA. She is incredibly proud of her aunt’s skills, but you can sense she has the ambition of a generation who have had access to a broader education, she will study Finance.
Elifura’s youngest likes to help his mum and threads beads to sell to women who buy the Batik. Co-ordinated beaded accessories are a valuable extra income to Elifura’s batik sales.Soon the dye has soaked in enough and set, so Eliafura can remove the wax from the fabric in hot water.Then the fabric is washed over and over so the dye doesn’t transfer to the skin. Bearing in mind few people have running water this makes for a labour intensive process, especially in the hot humid sun or the rain we had yesterday.Forestiana shares her wares, just stunning!We’ve agreed to buy this one, so it is folded up for us.
I asked Eliafura about how the project had helped her, she replied she had registered her business, opened a business account, networked with other women to find new markets and share the cost of stalls.
More than anything it had brought her belief in her own skills, she feels technically confident in her craft, she no longer feels nervous about sharing her work and sells it to her local community, to school teachers who traditionally dress in batik and even exports outside Tanzania. It is stunningly beautiful, why wouldn’t people want to buy it!
All this from a shed at the bottom of a garden, up and down and down a very, very long, potholed and winding road from Dar Es Salaam.
On the video you can hear the lovely bird song, hear Eliafura talk and listen to the rhythmic sounds of the water splashing as she works. A rough cut as I have limited time, but I wanted people to see inside the garden and workshop, and hear Eliafura’s voice this International Women’s Day.
It is International Women’s Day on 8th March and Penny, Annie and Tanya from Team Honk will be helping Comic Relief raise even more vital funds by highlighting projects that have helped women in Tanzania get jobs, start businesses and secure a future for their families and communities.
Our visit is about demonstrating #lastingchange, we’ll be blogging and tweeting from Tanzania, just one of the places in the world where Sport Relief funding kicks off change, improving not just one person’s life, but giving people a leg up so their families and whole communities benefit from the ripple effect.
How can you help?
Please RT, share and support any updates or blog posts you see with the #lastingchange hashtag.
DONATE You can help create #lastingchange by sponsoring #teamhonkrelay for Sport Relief
GET INVOLVED Join up for your local Sport Relief event here.