Changing lives through craft – Omba Arts Trust

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“Our products connect with local culture. We work with people’s strengths and so develop unique products together,” explains Karin le Roux, director of the Omba Arts Trust.

In October the Omba Arts Trust hosted a workshop at the Harmony Seminar Centre with representatives and leaders from craft groups and partner organisations. Insight was gained into the work they do, the communities they work with, the valuable contribution donor funding has made to the development of the craft sector, and the impact this has had on marginalised communities in Namibia.

Three local crafters told the delegates about the impact craftwork and the Omba Arts Trust has on their communities. Kristina Shitoka, who hails from the Kavango Region, started working with the Trust in 1992. Today she works with seven different groups in the region, sometimes having to walk for a whole day to reach them. But she doesn’t mind, because she knows that her effort pays off. “The Omba Arts Trust has opened our eyes. We never thought it would be possible to make a living from our resources. All the women involved in this project can now provide for themselves and their families.”

Meme Sophia Sederes from Ondangwa agrees. “The trust has taught us how to create quality products and how to make a living from our handiwork. We started out with 11 women in 2001 and have since grown to a group of 30.” Oba Kamseb from the Donkerbos community explains that they depend on the income generated from crafts to increase their standard of living. We are very proud of our products and their marketability. The involvement of the Trust has brought a life-changing experience to our community.”

The mission of the Omba Arts Trust is to support the livelihoods of marginalised producers through the development, sales and marketing of quality crafts. The Trust handles over 500 products from 19 different communities.

Marita van Rooyen for Travel News Namibia, October / November 2011

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