Clothing Donations a Success for Community Empowerment Project
Fourth year Occupational Therapy (OT) students on the Westville campus have kick-started an innovative entrepreneurship project which empowers disabled members of the Mariannridge community through second hand clothing sales.
The entrepreneurship project originally began as a female empowerment initiative to provide a platform for employment for women and was soon extended to all disabled members of the community as a result of a critical analysis of the opportunities vested within the project.
‘The idea was to be a platform to get members of the community empowered through the selling of second hand clothes,’ said Ms Sarah Larkin, a fourth year OT student who is participating in the project.
‘There was some negative feedback at first from the entrepreneurship group members, but once it gained attention, it became an incredible success. A call for clothes donations was sent out and after garments had been gathered, these were taken to be sorted and sold by the group of disabled members.
‘It started off a little slow in the beginning because the members were sceptical about selling second hand clothes, but once they began sorting through what was donated, they found that the clothes donated were of a high quality and would generate a substantial profit,’ said another participating student, Ms Amy Brown.
‘A family involved in the entrepreneurship project who were unable to afford to pay for their water and electricity which was therefore cut off, became excited because they had an opportunity to have access to these services again with the money they made from their clothes sales.’
The participating students have interacted with disabled people with low levels of unemployment and through this initiative are attempting to break the cycle of hopelessness and helplessness and to improve quality of life.
‘We want people to feel empowered and know about the possibilities that are available out there for them within their communities,’ said Ms Chantal Christopher, a Senior Lecturer at the OT Department.
‘Our endpoint goal perhaps is for the participants of the programme to change, adapt and create opportunity for themselves in a way that meets their needs as well.’
A clothes donation box has been set up in the OT Department on the Westville campus and the project team has called on other departments and other campuses to donate to this worthy cause. For further information phone Chantal at 031 – 260 8218.
- Zakia Jeewa