Our Community of JabuLadies is Growing
It began with leader, Miriam Mahladisa, a long-time employee working with us, and the Jabulani lodge housekeeping team, and now our JabuLadies Team is growing to include more ladies from the direct community around us here in Hoedspruit, such as Patience Mabunda, Thulisile Malatule and Linkie Malatole seen above.
Initiated by HERD Founder, Adine Roode, the JabuLadies project aims to inspire, enlighten and empower women around us to create a unique collection of hand-embroidered items and make extra income for themselves and their families. With COVID19 leaving many people around the world without jobs, especially in rural parts of South Africa where we are based, we have tried to create new opportunities for entrepreneurship, to help others to support themselves and uplift their communities.
JabuLadies focuses on women in our local community, who often have to stay home to care for their children, or don’t have access to job opportunities. With our embroidery project, these ladies can work from home, enabling us to also work towards bridging the gender gaps in equality and income, little by little.
Helping to run this Skills Development Project is Miriam Mahladisa who has become an ambassador for female empowerment. She gained experience and training in cutting and measuring fabric, threading, and embroidering bookmarks and placemats, before sharing her skills through training more ladies in our direct Hoedspruit community, now known proudly as JabuLadies.
This Jabuladies Family is growing, with Miriam as trainer. The ladies are paid a daily rate for their work, and can embroider in their own time at home. We then purchase the products from the JabuLadies and sell and market the items, crediting the ladies and ensuring them a steady source of income. We hope to keep growing the project and bringing in more women, to offer more opportunities, and to also add different product ideas for the JabuLadies to create.
One new project is our elephant dung paper-making which the JabuLadies have embraced along with Miriam!
Elephant dung has been used in different ways in African communities. Our longtime Carer Last shared that women make use of it to avoid having a Caesarean. They will dry the dung and then put it in water to drink. Elephant dung has other uses too, such as for compost.
We use the dung from the rescued herd for a variety of ways, including conservation and community projects. Regarding conservation, we use the dung as a fertiliser, sell or donate it to local eco-village gardens that feed children in need, to make pot plants, to pack in the sides of the dirt roads to combat erosion and to fill potholes, to feed new elephant orphans who rely on the dung for bacteria as calves, to assist their digestion, and… we use some of the dung to create gin infusions with Jabulani lodge…
We are currently harvesting the elephants’ dung in our JabuLadies projects for soap and paper making. Once again, the JabuLadies are trained on site at HERD to create these items using tools we provide. We in turn sell their creations and provide the ladies with an additional income. At the same time, they get to share in the wilderness and gain more insight into the wildlife we work to protect. Elephants can in this way contribute to conservation and community upliftment.
One of our HERD Trust objectives is to take a holistic approach to leveraging elephant goods (including dung) and services (including ecotourism, cultural value, existence value), that ensures the sustainability of the land-use and protection of the elephants on the reserve, but that also provides access with tenure to the local community to enhance the broader value of the current land-use relative to other options.
Through training the ladies on our grounds, we are able to show how elephant conservation can translate into jobs and salaries for the people around us, as well as to share the wilderness with them during their visits. The placemats feature embroidery designs of the rescued Jabulani herd and their carers, weaving the stories of the elephants into each fabric.
The JabuLadies are putting their hands to even more talents and functions as part of our land management initiatives, helping to clear alien vegetation out in the bush and to pack brush to encourage regrowth of plants in eroded areas, in our sustainability and grasslands rehabilitation project.
The JabuLadies are a force to be reckoned with – gaining new talents and plenty of experience in different fields of work, while bringing in a reliable income for themselves and their families. We are eager to keep creating such opportunities as a way to provide our larger community with ways of empowering themselves, and to include more members of our society in the experience of the wilderness and elephant conservation and education.
Where It All Began…
Adine Roode wished to create something beneficial and empowering. She wanted to spread awareness about the welfare of the wildlife in the areas surrounding the Jabulani lodge and the Greater Kruger and empower local women at the same time. We gained a lot of guidance and support from local South Africans such as passionate embroiderer Kelly Fletcher, and Dana Biddle from Colourspun, a yarn supplier, as well as Emetia Pretorius who assisted with the initial development of the different products and concepts. Her vision was to create uniquely South African items using local fabric. Today, JabuLadies has taken on new shapes and forms to widen our sphere of influence, with a variety of items being made.
You can help to support the JabuLadies by purchasing their items on our online shop >
Above: Previously, we have hosted training sessions with the fabulous ladies of the housekeeping department and enjoyed witnessing the skills-sharing and quality time together – including with some team members whom have been at Jabulani for almost 15 years. Together, we created embroidered turn-down gifts, with a story attached about the particular housekeeper who made each item, for guests at Jabulani.