Do it yourself

Some people believe in waiting for the Government to give them loans, grants and even offer them jobs on a silver platter. While the sleeping dogs lie, some go-getters believe in doing it themselves.

Hilda Vries, the chairperson of Doen En Sien Self Satco Leather Project, translated in English as ‘Do and see for yourself, says that waiting for the rain in the month of June will not help anyone; people should always prepare for any season.  

Doen En Sien Self Satco Leather project produces “veldskoen” or dessert shoes which are southern african walking shoes made from tanned leather or soft rawhide uppers attached without tracks or nails to a leather foot-bed and rubber sole.

Although the women who are part of this project know how to use machines, they still love to produce hand made products that show African originality.
She says women of Doen En Sien Self Satco Leather project believe people should work for what they want and earn respect out of it. It will not profit anyone to sit and wait for other people to give them something to survive on. She explains that hard work always pays off if one puts his or her heart to it.

Vries says products made are sold to people of all ages and all tribes. She also adds that there is no special treatment to any tribe; they treat their customers the same.   

“Our handmade products are mainly traditional and cultural leather shoes for men, women and children. We also design cultural products making from leather like key holders, knife bags, cell phone bags, belts, sandals, saddles for donkeys and horses and other traditional items which are used for donkeys and horses cars in our community. We also repair leather products,” she says.

She adds that the traditional shoes have a unique brand which makes them stand out amongst the Nama people and also some women from different traditions. She explains that it is uniquely made of soft leather which perfectly fits for sandy, rough as well as cold conditions of the Southern parts of Namibia. The shoes are perfect for rural women and are lately making headway in the collection of urban ladies as well.

“We sell them every day, while women make shoes men usually concentrate on making belts and they are in demand like cakes,” she mentions proudly.  

The leather used in production comes from Leather Connections and Nakara Factory in Windhoek. This 17 year old project has become more popular through visibility at annual expos. Vries says these expos have made the project well known around the country and have brought in good business.

“The 2006 Ongwediva expo was a huge success for us and it brought much business, last year we were at the Windhoek expo and that gained us popularity in the capital. We will be there for the 2015 one,” she says.

Doen En Sien Self Satco Leather Project is situated in Sacto village 14 kilometers north-west of Karasburg, has brought about other changes. “The project has also developed and improved gender equality and youth development, there are nine women and two men working from Karasburg, and one man in Keetmanshoop,” she says.

Vries says the project strives to provide women and youth with equal access to resources such as income, leadership, ownership, knowledge, good health and infrastructure as well as improving quality of life in Karasburg.

She also adds that the project gives back to the community in so many ways, through supporting some of the children by aiding with school fees and providing necessary resources including clothing.

“There was one house that burnt down and we bought everything to support the family that was faced with the tragedy,” Vries says.

She also says that competition is not something to worry about at the moment because this project is the only one in the South and it produces quality products.