Sunday, November 30, 2008

Isandla Paper is supporting the Ethembeni Old Age Home in Mdantsane

The cook at work always trying to prepare healthy meals

Some of the inhabitants of the home, mostly women

There are many who need frail care as well

Mrs. Pelisa Welemu, initiator and director of the home with some of the women
Isandla paper is supporting at the moment one charitable institution " The Ethembeni Old Age Home" in Mdantsane. We try to support the home on an on-going basis and by giving a certain percentage from our sales to this institution. We are hoping to increase our contribution in the future.
Mdantsane is the second largest township in South-Africa after Soweto and has been a disadvantaged community from the beginning of Apartheid. There is a population of more than 500.000. Estimates say that there are 60 % women and 40% men.
There is a high unemployment rate affecting mostly the youth and adult population.
55 % of the community are unemployed only 25 % are workers and the rest depend on child support, disability or old age grant which is given by the South-African government to alleviate poverty.
There were no institutions that took care of the elderly and in the whole of Mdantsane there existed no old age home facility.
The Ethembeni Old Age Home started as a non profit organisation in 2004 through the amazing initiative of a fantastic woman Mrs. Pelisa Welemu.
She started by cooking soup and sometimes lunch for the elderly in her community. At the beginning she visited the homes of the elderly and tried to help them by washing or feeding them.
After a while she contacted the Uniting Reformed Church in Mdantsane and they gave Mrs Welemu their unused mission house as a shelter for old and abandonned old people.
Beds and Linen were borrowed from those in the community who wanted and who could assist.
People started now staying in the house. This was the beginning of up to day the only old age home in Mdantsane.
After a while Pelisa could win the support of a doctor who agreed to visit the newly set up home on a monthly basis and do check-ups on the inhabitants. A nearby clinic also supports the home.
The home got some small donations and became gradually more recognized. Pelisa recruted volunteers for the home because more and more people applied to be taken in.
The home was run after a while solely with the old age grants that the elderly received and donated to the home so that Pelisa could take care of them.
These funds were used to pay burial societies, medical expenses, buying groceries and clothing for them.
In a conversation Mrs Welemu she said the following:
" The situation of the senior citizens in this country requires that they be taken care of. As we look at this, we discovered that abuse starts at home and ends up in the loan sharks. The chances of elderly people to have their freedom are minimized by exploitation, violence and insecurity.
This is when we identified the problems they are facing, some individuals were neglected because their children were suffering from HIV/Aids and this effected the elderly people emotionally. As we worked closer with them we further noticed that some were abused because of their pension grant.
Ethembeni Old Age home helped most families around as some elderly people were left alone while their children are at work and their grand children at school.
If someone that does not have a burial society, we make sure that he/she joins and we take the responsibilty and pay for it. The people are abused and neglected so they cannot afford a fee that other Old Age Home's charge because they need more money to add on to their pensions.
Our home only uses their grants to keep the home safe and working perfectly.
At the moment we have 15 residents, and more people want to stay but unfortunately we do not have enough space to accomodate them.
Pelisa says further:
Our Mission Statement is to provide services to improve the living conditions of the elderly people through our humanitarian goal which acts as our driving force, to encourage them to understand that they are human beings and must be respected too.
We want to create a home in which senior citizen's needs are met and their fundamental rights, balanced by individual responsibility and supported by a flexibel and dedicated staff. We are working hard to have an old age home building in our Township as we do not have one at the moment . We want to overcom the present situation where our elderly citizens are suffering and their lives are sometimes even in danger.
If you want to support this home I can put you into direct contact with Mrs Pelisa Welemu. Any help would be much appreciated.


Gift Bag with vintage doilie decoration

Flower paper notebook

Porcupine Stationery set

In 2007 Isandla Paper was choosen to take part and to represent the Province of the Eastern Cape at the country's premier individually crafted and contemporary applied arts trade show: ONE OF A KIND
This business trade show, which is held annually in Midrand, Johannesburg offers a unqiue marketing opportunity for the best designer homeware, decor items, corporate gifts, jewellery, curios and fashion accessories that are showcased to international buyers and to the public.
" One of a Kind " celebrates all things handmade. This show allows for the participation of individual and emerging craft producers.
It is a true reflection of the outstanding handmade products available in our country and local and international buyers know that they will find products that are truly unique.
I was very proud that my products had reached a quality standard that is comparable to european countries and that we were among the chosen businesses.
The products of Isandla Paper are proudly and unqiue South-african and their truly handmade and warm appeal makes that they cna be easily distinguished and will not disappear between masses of factory produced products.
" One of a Kind" has given us an enormous boost and bigger orders and I can recommend it to other artists and designers that seek to establish contacts and want to start exporting. International buyers that represent retail outlets in countries such as Japan, Germany, France, USA and the United Kingdom visit this local trade fair.
The best selling items at this trade show were our DOILIE GIFT BAGS that come in different sizes. For these bags we buy old vintage doilies and we work with very some very charming ladies from a local old age home who possess all " master certificates in crocheting " (at least it seems to me like that) and who supply us with beautiful doilies.
Another two best sellers were our flower-paper diaries and the porcupine stationery sets which make wonderful gifts. You can see two of items in the pictures.


Cornelia applying paint to recycled small jewelry bags
Chocolat Negro's Paper Workshop.In The Picture Cornelia applying paint to small jewelry bags

My workshop still a space problem -used to be an old garden tools room

Welcome to my blog ISANDLA PAPER

My name is Chocolat and I have created Isandla Paper in 2006 - a small but up-and- coming dynamic business that manufacturers exquisite handmade paper and paper-products of various colors and designs. I produce loose sheets in various sizes and a range of beautiful handcrafted paper products. I specialize in gift bags, packaging, writing sets, envelopes and corporate gifts.

I am living in South-Africa in the Province of the Eastern Cape.I have started this blog to talk about my business and to share the exciting products we create with you.
Isandla Paper is an eco-sustainable business. I have always been fascinated with reworking recycable material and with re-using discarded items.
The paper and paper products of our range are all made from 100% recycled shredded office paper mixed with the bark of alien invasive trees.

A great deal of South-Africa's water is used by plants that do not belong here. These plants are called invading alien plants because they spread and displace our natural trees and plants. Large areas of good agricultural land and some of the most scenic areas have been invaded.Many invading plants were brought into South Africa for purposes such as forestry plantations.
They grow so well because they do not have natural enemies such as insects, animals and diseases that would have controlled them in their own countries. By clearing alien-invading vegetation Isandla Paper helps also to improve water supplies.

One of the alien invading trees is the Black Wattle which is found in the Eastern Cape where I live.
I think we have reached a point were it is necessary to look at our resources in a new light and to re-use materials.

Our production line starts with boiling and mashing the wattle bark or the bark of other invasive trees in a three legged pot. The wood of the trees that have been harvested serves to fuel the fire of the iron pots. The bark mash is mixed with a pulp made from shredded waste office paper and water. It is then dyed in different colors.
The pulp is diluted with water and put into a vat. A mould is dipped into the vat, shaken evenly and then lifted out with the pulp on it.

Each sheet is tipped out onto a layer of cloth and the layers are build up until they are ready to going to the press. A hydraulic press is used to squeeze as much water out of the sheets as possible.
In 2007 I have added flower paper to our range. For this flowers are picked and collected and added to the pulp.After the pressing process, the sheets are separated again and peeled off the cloth. As between 50 and 60% of the moisture remains in the sheets, the sheets are dried by hanging them up in open sunny areas to dry them completely. Each paper sheet is ironed because this gives the paper a more smooth and glossy surface.
My Product is an all South-African Product, Ethical, Creative and Recycled

The part I enjoy most is transforming or converting the paper into a range of beautiful but modern and trendy products that reflect the spirit of our time.

Many of the products of our range are limited editions because we work with discarded items like plastic lids, onion net, fabric cut off, old buttons, doilies, wire, elastics etc. 80% of the products used for the finishing touches are discarded or waste items or materials than can be transformed into new products.
Each product is unique and is made entirely by hand. Handcrafted from the first to the last step. I use basic manufacturing processes like hand-cutting, hand gluing and hand-weaving.

I started alone in the beginning but I have several south african ladies whom I have trained and who work with me now.
The manufacture of handmade paper is a fascinating and 1000 of years old process. But it is very time-consuming and it's a detailed process. In the case of Isandla Paper the addition of sound ecological principles is an extra effort but the result is great.

Hand-made paper is a luxury today, and a handwritten thank you not on beautiful peronalised stationery shows innate elegance and an appreciation of old ways of communicating in our fast-paced throw-away society.

If you are interested in our projects please follow this blog. I will continously post new articles also about living and working in South-Africa.


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