The Orange Farm community is a semi-rural, undeveloped area 40km South of Johannesburg. The township is one of the largest informal settlements in South Africa, with most estimates giving a population of 1 million people. The challenges that are faced by this community are high levels of poverty; low levels of literacy; lack of basic services; lack of access to justice and health care facilities; lack of consultation between the local government and community members; high levels of violence (generally alcohol-related); lack of employment which leads to increased crime.
Upcycle has spent a few years in this community, From teaching a group of ladies to make teddies using scrap fabric to another project about making products from waste to generate an income for themselves, we have become very attached to the people from Orange farm as they have passion and drive to make a difference to their lives. On many levels, we hope to continue making a difference to the people in Orange Farm – one bit of junk at a time.
The teddy bear project was introduced to the project as part of the skills transfer process. Upcycle has been teaching ladies Upcycling skills, needlework and how to use a sewing machine as part of its skills development project.
It was at this time, that Lydia, one of our “learners” fell in love with these cute teddies we were teaching them to make. Even though this was different from her original ideas path, which was to of learning to sew clothing from home to increase her income, and to work, Lydia has adopted the teddy project as her own. and Lydia makes these teddies and loves teaching and sharing her knowledge of making teddies with other ladies in Orange Farm.
Upcycle has been teaching ladies Upcycling skills, needlework and how to use a sewing machine as part of its skills development project. The teddy bear project was introduced to the project as part of the skills transfer process. It was at this time, that Lydia fell in love with these cute teddies. Even though this was different from her original path, which was to learn to sew clothing to increase her income, and to work from home, Lydia has adopted the teddy project as her own and is loving being able to now help others in return. Lydia makes these teddies and now teaches ladies in Orange Farm to do the same.
The teddy bears are completely hand-made, everything from construction to the finishing details. Even the stuffing is recycled – made from tiny, unusable fabric scraps. This makes the project ideal to be set up and taken further into any rural area with all the sewing and finishes being done by hand, thereby sing the project ideal to be set up, and taken further into any rural area. Upcycle has taken this to the level that even the stuffing used in each teddy is from the self-same scrap.
Upcycle has taught Lydia how to make these teddies from start to finish, how to do the different stitches, how to assemble the little bears and finally their signature faces. Through Upcycle’s support and tutelage, she is now able to produce these bears which are on sale at the Hayley Joy shop in Dunkeld West Shopping Centre, JHB or through Upcycle.
Due to the rising demand we have had to produce more of these cute little fabric bears, we have helped Lydia to bring more people into the project and we have reduced Hayley’s waste to zero as we take all her scrap fabric. Lydia now has 4 additional people in her home town of Orange Farm making teddys and helping her keep up with the orders. Two of these ladies are elderly and unemployed and through this project have now found a purpose to their days while making an income by producing amazing little teddies. Lydia has gone from making the bears by herself to being a team leader and managing the process.
When they talk about the Angels that walk amongst us, Upcycle Winnie Mchenry is most definitely one of them. Dedicating your life to helping people change their lives by upskilling them, and contributing to saving our planet, makes her a very special Angel.
Please watch the video and please like and share it. We need to get Winnie and her dedication out to the world.
I’m incredibly honored to be a small part of this phenomenal initiative. Upskilling women so that they can feed, clothe and school their families, and at the same time keeping waste out of landfills, means that my carbon footprint is a little lighter.
Winnie does valuable corporate team building sessions (I’ve seen photos of the CEO of a bank, holding my fabric, whilst making a teddy for charity). Please support this initiative, it’s changing lives on a scale that is unprecedented.
Hayley Joy Weinberg2019
If you don’t believe in Angels, then you haven’t met Winnie McHenry. Winnie and I crossed paths when I was looking to donate my bags of fabric offcuts, to an organisation, to avoid them ending up in a landfill. It’s not easy controlling my carbon footprint in my industry, and the amount of bags we generate is particularly worrying.
Winnie is the owner of an amazing initiative called Upcycle Winnie. She will take your trash, teach skills to people, and they will turn your trash into something amazing, like these gorgeous Teddy Bears, made out of Hayley Joy offcuts.
I am so flattered to be a part of this upliftment chain. Working with Winnie, has taught HJ so much about the ‘bigger picture’.
I have taken delivery of my first range of Teddies. They are for sale at R150, and all proceeds will go back to Winnie and the community who are so lovingly producing the Bears.
Empowering families via our fabric offcuts, is something I’m extremely proud of. It’s an important part of my entrepreneurial dream.