It’s no secret that while you are enjoying an exciting visit to Namibia, friends and family back home expect a little gift or two – just to share in the adventure.
And just for that reason, visitors and Namibians looking for a perfectly small gift, should make a stop at the KatuTura soap project, where a group of women produce 100% Namibian soaps, made from mahangu or olive oil.
On a recent visit, the first thing that strikes us is a table laid out with a variety of soaps in all shapes and sizes. All beautiful and creamy. Even the packaging is made from natural materials and wrapped by the women who work here.
The KatuTura soap project was launched in 2009, and has since then lent a helping hand in changing the lives of a number of women.
Based on a project which sought to help HIV positive mothers earn a living, and funded initially by the Finnish Embassy, the KatuTura soap project has had a life defining impact on soapmakers Emilia, Lucia and Loide. The three women work from the Penduka women’s centre in Katatura, in a neat little shop, where they daily produce soaps which present the perfect gift.
Loide Vaalukeni says that despite challenges such as getting enough buyers for the soap, she is happy to have found a job where she can be creative and entrepreneurial.
“I like this job very much. At the beginning, it was very exciting. Just the fact that I could wake up each morning and go to work. I also enjoy the sense of creativity, and that this brings in an income for me and my family”.
“It really helps us. Since we started in 2009, my life has changed for the better”, Emilia Handumbo said.
Lucia Elifas agrees that her life has taken a turn for the better since she became a soap maker. She prides herself on the skills she has acquired and is hopeful that these skills will lend themselves to an evergrowing business enterprise.
The three women work at the Penduka Two women’s centre in Katutura. Here they come each morning to make soap, and to construct the hand made packaging.
All soap is made from a mixture of water, oil (mahangu or Namibian olive oil) and caustic soda. The ingredients are carefully measured out and eventually mixed. A hand blender is used to create the perfect consistancy for the soap.
The mixture is then poured into various moulds and then it takes about a day to set in the mould. Then the soap is taken out of the moulds and must dry for one month, before it is ready for packaging and sale.
As much as the woman are passionate of their jobs, they admit that times are tough – they need more clients and are looking for government or private sector support. But there is no doubt, that even in tough times, they will continue to make soaps which are beautiful gifts for friends and family, and can proudly be named 100% Namibian.
INTERESTED IN BUYING THESE SOAPS?
Contact Emilie at 081 2911 070 or visit the Green market which takes place every Saturday at the Stephanus church in Klein Windhoek.
The soaps are permanently available at the Namibia Crafts Centre, at the Out of Katutura stall on the mezzanine floor.