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African Home

African Home, based in Cape Town, South Africa, works to empower economically disadvantaged artisans in the country. African Home was established in March 2002 by two South African women who were impressed with the high standard of crafts and concerned about the high rate of unemployment in South Africa. They started African Home in order to open access to worldwide markets for economically disadvantaged craftspeople in South Africa, thus creating more employment. The organization plays a significant role in supporting small one and two-person craft groups to expand and enables them to take on larger orders. African Home supports fair trade principles, and aims to expand craft markets for South African artisans in an ethical and humane manner, paying fair prices and with concern for the environment. Ten Thousand Villages began purchasing from African Home in 2008.

  • A World of Opportunity

    Victor Chiteura is proud to be called Zvakanaka, a term of endearment given to him by his crafter team. Zvakanaka, means “maker of nice stuff,” a modest assessment of someone whose reliability and attention to detail and quality places him ahead of his competition in the wireworks craft sector in South Africa.

    Chiteura is aware of the need for innovation and efficiency in the craft industry, as in all artistic endeavors. He treats all orders with care, recognizing that the smallest sample might lead to the biggest order. He knows the empowering potential of such orders, and that through them, families can be supported and lives can change. Chiteura appreciates this in light of his own personal journey, and his struggles towards self preservation during times of immense hardship.

    Chiteura was born in Zimbabwe in 1968. He was one of four children living in a family of abject poverty. His father died when he was 10, leaving his mother to fend for them in their rural home. Chiteura left school in grade 8 to find and provide financial support for his family. He moved to the city when he was 16, selling cigarettes and constantly job hunting despite scarce resources. He lived alone on the streets for two years, selling vegetables to survive. This is a far cry from his life now, in which he feels blessed by his wife, Precious, their seven-year-old son, Loyiso, and an abundance of friends and “cousin-brothers.”

    It was during his period of extreme poverty in 1990 that Chiteura began to teach himself craft skills. He set himself a goal, and in 1993, after his mother’s death, he managed to save money to buy a Zimbabwean passport, craft materials and to pay for his travel costs to South Africa.

    Chiteura lived in Durban before settling in Port Elizabeth in 1995, where he met Precious. He remembers these years as fruitful. He would spend two to three months in Zimbabwe producing enough stock of wire motorbikes to take with him back to Port Elizabeth, where he would sell all his stock within less than a month.

    Misfortune struck, however, when Chiteura first experienced the effects of xenophobia in South Africa. In the middle of the night, after being robbed and threatened by certain jealous individuals, Chiteura was forced to flee his home with only the clothes he was wearing and minimal possessions.

    In 2004 Chiteura arrived in Cape Town, where he worked for a pittance in the craft industry, at a cooperative. Upon leaving this craft cooperative, he struggled to gain access to the right trade markets, as his diligence and expertise made him a threat to his former employers in a highly competitive industry.

    In 2007, Chiteura began working with African Home, a collaboration that has opened up a world of opportunity. Chiteura has come to recognize his rights as a crafter, and the values of fair trade that contrast with previous models of exploitation. His dedication to the mission of African Home results in high quality and reliability.

    Chiteura’s first order from African Home was for his beaded frogs and fridge magnets. He was able to deliver this order a week earlier than expected, an impressive achievement in an industry where crafters sometimes work through the night to meet stressful deadlines. Recently, Chiteura worked solidly for four months and learned a great deal through his first large order from Ten Thousand Villages. He is delighted by the support, and by the opportunity to be working on a second large order for such a well-established organization.

    Chiteura’s taste of success did not guarantee plain sailing for him or for his community. The recent xenophobic attacks throughout the country were yet another low point for Chiteura and his now established team. Once again his home was invaded and vandalized, and this time his materials were stolen and a large part of his finished crafts destroyed.

    Despite the low ebbs in his life, however, Chiteura perseveres with his projects with the reassurance that he has an ever-expanding support system in his endeavors. He is a cherished member of African Home.