Khayelitsha Days

Since 2002, the Ruby Beading Circle has been based in Khayelitsha, a rambling informal township outside Cape Town that is an urban refuge for hundreds of thousands of previously rural dwellers.

They came to Cape Town in search of better opportunities, but jobs are scarce, unemployment is rampant, people are struggling, and social welfare institutions are stretched to capacity.

The average income per family is R20,000 (US$1,872) a year, and over half of the 118,000 households live in informal dwellings with no running water.

At Ruby we believe that job creation and employment are critical for economic and social upliftment. We all have to start addressing job creation opportunities if we are to build our nation and move forward. And at Ruby we're doing our bit bead by bead for the last 16 years.

Most of our bead workers were previously unemployed and ill-equipped for the formal job market. But they are highly skilled in traditional beadwork techniques. The incredible women of the Ruby Beading Circle choose to work from home. This means they can save on transport costs, and they're able to watch over their kids and grandkids while they're working.

Our beadwork supervisor Andita Shaweni has grown with Ruby since inception, and today is the proud owner of a nice house in Khayelitsha which the company assisted her with.

Land reform is a crucial issue in our country and we believe that if everyone who was able could help people to buy their own homes the road to financial upliftment would be paved. We intend to pave this road with beautiful beads and magnificent jewellery for our customers.

When you purchase a beaded item from our collection you are literally putting food on someone's table. You are offering a hand up, not a hand out. Thank you for helping us.  Here are a few iPhone shots of Khayelitsha captured by Andita.

Hoping for a time when informal settlement services and infrastructure get prioritised and taken seriously by local and national government. Until then the private sector should look towards ways of contributing meaningfully, and working with local communities and structures to make whatever difference they can.

Typical "informal dweller" toilet cubicles in BM section, Khayelitsha, that are provided by the city council. 10 families are currently sharing one cubicle - often some distance from their shacks. The taps outside the cubicles are water collection points.

"Spaza" shops are local stores that stock everything from onions to airtime. Modest resources call for innovative sign writing. 

The African Zion Church plays a massive role in the Khayelitsha community. This pic is so uniquely South African - it captures are proud flag, a minibus taxi (the backbone of our public transport service) and their immaculate white outfits - with colour accents.

Urban to Rural. Andita took these two pics on a recent road trip to the Transkei, in the Eastern Cape - one of the most beautiful and traditional parts of South Africa - and the ancestral home of most Xhosa people. The awesome rolling hills, long stretches of coastline and fertile valleys dotted with traditional rondavels (round thatch roof traditional huts) are a must see for anyone visiting South Africa.

Andita's extended family live in the Transkei. This traditional scene is of a few cast iron Potjie pots on a fire base near her family home in the Transkei. For many, job opportunities are limited in the rural areas hence South Africa's rapid and swift ongoing urbanisation.