Wola Nani

Wola Nani

Wola Nani has been supporting women with HIV & AIDS from some of the poorest communities in South Africa since 1994. We don’t just strive to give, strive to ensure that these women can have a sustainable future living with dignity and hope.

Wola Nani’s income Generation project ensures that women can earn a regular income whilst working from home. This means they can independently sustain their own lives whilst earning income to buy food, medicine, electricity and afford schooling for their children.

Currently Wola Nani supports 40 crafters, many of whom have been working with Wola Nani for over 10 years. They follow Fair Trade practises and many of the crafts are made using recyclable materials.

Wola Nani was first founded by human rights activist, Gary Lamont, here he speaks of why in 1994 he decided to start Wola Nani:

"We wanted to open the door for a bit more justice to come in. After the 1994 elections HIV became the issue. The gay HIV epidemic had arrived in the late 80s, and for a small number of people with HIV, there was a strong gay movement. But for South African black women and children, they had nothing. They were poor, illiterate, lacked transport and had no real community in the townships as they had come from rural areas. They were nowhere near having ‘a voice'. We wanted to provide services for those who couldn't help themselves. It was a physical expression of the new South Africa. We were on a roll from the end of apartheid – altruistic, energetic and full of ideas".

"We always tried to have some fun to compensate for the tragic themes – lunchtime discos and an end of year party in the Red Ribbon Campaign. It is important to be positive. We wanted to be creative and political. In the early days, people didn't know what would work. Everything we did was an experiment. We were ignorant, and so lucky. And we were honest. We never pretended we were experts. To be honest, I don't think there was ever a day when I knew what was going on. We made the most of all the opportunities. At one point I think we had 16 projects on at the same time. The work hives were nearly always successful if they were established and set up properly. But we soon realized we could be more effective if we concentrated on fewer things, so we closed down the less productive projects."

"Khayelitsha is a more mature community now. Back then, when we'd only been going 18 months or so, you couldn't even say HIV. I remember being in a support group session in a shipping container (it was all we had at the time) and afterwards the nurse said to me, 'you can't say that, you can't say HIV' – that was the extent of the stigma and denial, the women couldn't talk about it openly, even amongst themselves. But over time, things have changed. It was great to see the work hives take off. It was the first regular activity they ever had. They had new clothes, dignity and were becoming politicised."

Visit Wola Nani's Website: www.wolanani.co.za