Little Travellers are made as part of an income-generation project at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre by women and men who are infected/affected by HIV/AIDS. Each Little Traveller is as unique as the artist creating them. Here you will find some of their stories - be sure to check back often as profiles will continue to be added. In addition, click here to see photos of more of the crafters.
Ester is a 58 year old mother of four, who also cares for her grandchildren, providing them with food and clothing. Ester first came to the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust to get information and tips on growing crops and flowers. At the time Ester had no income but knew how to bead. She wanted to join the Woza Moya beading project and before long she was making Little Travellers. Ester is always trying to grow as a beader and enjoys sharing knowledge and receiving lessons from other crafters. Ester is a very spiritual person and she draws strength from her beading and knows that her work is making a positive difference! Seeing a Little Traveller brings a smile to her face, "I know I can accomplish anything in my house by making them", she explains.
As a long-standing beader with Woza Moya we have travelled with Ester from the time she earned enough money to get electricity connected to her house. On the day her lights came on we were hugged and squeezed so tightly. With the R400 a week in Little Traveller sales, Ester has been able to build a house for her children. Ester is also very excited about her new fridge, which she was able to purchase by making monthly installments of R250. Ester loves the creative freedom Little Travellers gives her and she designed the supporter dolls that come complete with their own South African flag. This year Ester plans to make supporter dolls for all the countries that will be coming to South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Little Travellers have had a huge impact on Ester's life and when she is not beading she enjoys planting vegetables and going to church.
Thobile is a 43 year old woman who beads as part of the Woza Moya income generation project at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre. She has two daughters, aged 24 and16 years, and she helps care for three grandchildren, of the ages 8, 5 and 2 years. She came to care for the grandchildren when her eldest daughter's boyfriend passed away. The other grandchildren's fathers aren't around either so she cares for them as well.
In 2005, Thobile came to the Hillcrest AIDS Centre because she was very sick (she says that she almost died). There, she met beaders who taught her to bead. Since she started beading, she has been making Little Travellers. She can make a Little Traveller in 30 minutes - hers are beautiful ballerinas.
To Thobile, making Little Travellers is especially meaningful because it makes her feel that she is the creator of beautiful things. Sometimes she thinks of the Little Travellers as living humans that she is able to bring to life.
Thobile says that beading has brought the biggest changes in her life because she lost her job when she fell ill. The money from beading gives her an income and has given her her life back. She's now able to do things that she couldn't do before. Thobile depends greatly on Little Traveller orders for her income so she can meet all the expenses for that month. Because of the dolls, she is able to pay school fees for her grandchildren.
On average, beading has brought Thobile R300 (~$50 CDN) per week; most of this is from making Little Travellers which are then sold around the world. In fact, she was recently able to build another room in her house, and put cupboards in the kitchen!
For fun, Thobile likes to do what she does best: dancing!
Ntombi is a vivacious thirty-nine year old woman who is involved in the beading projects and is a home-based carer at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust. She has two daughters, one of whom is twenty-four and the other thirteen years of age, and one granddaughter, who is eight. Ntombi also lives with her sister, and her sister's daughter and granddaughter.
Ntombi has been a volunteer home-based carer for seven years, and she cares or six clients in the community. She says that the job is emotionally draining, as she often finds that her clients' situations are heart breaking. Ntombi says that she copes by bracing herself emotionally before visiting the homes.
Ntombi has been beading since 1999, when she learned at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre. She says that she has been making Little Traveller dolls "since the beginning". In fact, Ntombi created the first Little Travellers to have long hair! Nowadays, she specializes in the large dolls that adorn Little Traveller displays in Canada and elsewhere.
Ntombi says that when she sees a Little Traveller, she sees a person. She goes on to explain that this is why she makes them beautiful - because she is creating a human being! Ntombi says that after making Little Travellers, she often lays them on her sofa and admires them for a while.
Ntombi has never been formally employed, so being involved in the Hillcrest AIDS Centre's beading project has really made a big difference in her life. She says that she can't even imagine her life without beading. In particular, she is grateful for the Little Traveller dolls, which earn her between R80 and R300 per week ($15-$60 Cdn), depending on the orders. Ntombi explains that her "entire house has come from the Little Travellers" � her fridge, her sofa, the plaster on her walls, EVERYTHING! It is no wonder that Ntombi admires the Little Travellers so much, and she grins from ear to ear when told about how these beautiful dolls that she helped develop have brought joy to people around the world.
Buselaphi Gwala is 50 years old, and has been beading since she was 16. She recalls being a girl when she learned how to bead, initially making clothes. She would sell these in the streets.
Buselaphi's family includes her son, who is about 25 years old (Buselaphi only knows that he was born on the 14th day of the month). Also, her brother is 58.
Buselaphi has been making Little Travellers for two years, and she can make four in a day. Hers are very distinct, as they are made in traditional Zulu beading patterns.
According to Buselaphi, Little Travellers mean "empowerment". She has made new designs, and Paula - the coordinator of the craft project at the Hillcrest
Beading has made a positive impact in her life. It has made her the sole breadwinner of her household, and has enabled her to pay for electricity, and to purchase a stove, fridge and television. On average, Buselaphi earns R400 (~$70 Cdn) a week from making Little Travellers.
For fun, Buselaphi likes to stay home, do housework, and once in a while, visit a friend.
Agnes is a sixty-two year old gogo who makes Little Travellers at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust. Agnes has seven children and she cares for six grandchildren, left to her when her daughter died of AIDS.
Agnes has been beading and making Little Travellers for five months, and she enjoys it because it enables her to earn an income to support her family. Agnes says that the dolls have brought her approximately R300 per week, and in addition to that, she says that it is relaxing and fun!
Cebisile is a beader and creator of Little Traveller dolls at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust. She is 38 years old, and cares for her twenty-five year old daughter and twelve year old nephew, who was left in Cebisile's care when her brother passed away.
Cebisile has been beading for two years, and been making Little Travellers for one year. She can make a Little Traveller in 20-30 minutes, and makes around five in a day. Since Cebisile doesn't have a job, she sees the Little Travellers as representing her hope to get money to buy necessary things. She also thinks of the Little Travellers as a hobby that allows her to make something that symbolizes HIV/AIDS.
Cebisile says that being involved in the beading project at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre has lessened her financial difficulties and enabled her to live positively by working alongside women who understand the problems she faces. She says that she earns between R80-200 per week by making Little Travellers, and she has been able to use this money to pay for food and other household goods, as well as to send her nephew to school.
Cebisile would like to one day become a home-based carer for the Hillcrest AIDS Centre. When asked what she does for fun, Cebisile smiles and responds, "making Little Travellers"!
Daphny is a fifty-four year old beader at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust. She is the mother of four children of ages sixteen to thirty-fours years old. In addition, she helps care for her one-year old grandson. Daphny's husband passed away 16 years ago.
Daphny has been involved in the beading at the AIDS Centre since February of 2006. She initially learned to bead a long time ago, but she stopped when she first got married; she started again at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre in order to earn an income.
Daphny makes Little Traveller dolls, and each one takes her an hour to make. She says that she can make up to five in one day. To her, the Little Travellers are like little toys, and she really likes them! By making them, Daphny has been able to earn R300 each week.
Beading has had a big impact in her life. She can now have the small pleasure that she was previously unable to afford, like coffee or tea in her home. Daphny says that she finds comfort in knowing that she will have an income every month because of the beading.
Freeda is a forty-nine year old woman who makes Little Travellers at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust, in South Africa. In addition to her two children and one grandchild, Freeda looks after two children left in her care when their mother died, and a third child who was abandoned.
Freeda has only been involved in the beading project at the AIDS Centre for two months, but already she can make a Little Traveller in just 30-40 minutes each. When asked about the significance of these dolls, Freeda explains, "I'm happy because they make my living from day to day". By making the Little Travellers, Freeda earns R70 per week, which she has enabled her to buy food and pay for the electricity and other needs of her home. To relax, Freeda enjoys spending time at home with her family and cooking for her children.
Joyce Mthethwa is 53 years old. Her family includes her husband, her two sons (aged 32 and 36), her two grandsons (7 & 16) and two granddaughters (both 7 yrs), as well as her cousin, who is 35 years old.
Joyce has been beading for three years, which is also how long she has been making Little Travellers. Each doll takes less than one hour to make.�For Joyce, making Little Travellers is a joy, and, because of it, she has a lot more money in the bank at the end of the month.
Joyce says that beading has changed her life. She is the primary income earner in her home, and this has greatly improved her life. She can now pay for food and can even take things on credit because she knows she will get money from the Little Travellers!
Depending on the order, Joyce makes about R300 per week. The Little Travellers have had a very positive effect on her family, and everyone at home is much less stressed because they know that money will be coming in at the end of the week because of the dolls.
To Joyce, church is fun! She is also a traditional healer, which she really enjoys. If she's not at church or healing people, Joyce spends her time making more Little Travellers!
Lawrence is a fourty-four year old man who earns a living by beading Little Travellers at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust. Lawrence is married and has six children, aged twelve to twenty-five years old. In addition, Lawrence and his wife care for his sister's son, after he was kicked out of his home.
Lawrence became involved in beading at HACT because he was a home-based carer for seven years, from 1999 to 2006. He is currently volunteering in a childrens home for orphans in Bothas Hill. Lawrence really enjoys working with the orphans; he helps them to make plans for school or work, and takes them on outings such as to the beach.
Lawrence has been making Little Travellers for a long time, though he�s not sure when he started. It takes him 30 minutes to make each doll. To Lawrence, Little Travellers signify family: he says that they bring people together, "like caring for a baby or small animal". Making the Little Travellers has helped Lawrence to support his family, because he couldn't find a job because of the high rates of unemployment. Through the Little Travellers, however, Lawrence can earn R300-400 per week. In fact, because of the Little Travellers, Lawrence was able to build a seven-room house! In addition, he has been able to pay off his bed, and can buy food for his family.
Nana's family is so poor that they have been unable to afford her children�s school fees for the past two years, even though they are only R50 ($8 Cdn) per year. In addition, Nana's situation is particularly difficult because her home burned down last week, and although no one was hurt, the fire destroyed the birth certificates and clinic cards of her children, making things very difficult for her since!
The Hillcrest AIDS Centre has been very important to Nana, and she says that coming to the centre has made a big difference in her life. In addition to enrolling her in the beading project, the centre has provided school uniforms for her children.
Although Nana only learned to make Little Travellers last week, she is a very quite learner and her dolls are very beautiful. She says that making them has been fun, and that she has enjoyed it. She is looking forward to making more Little Travellers in the future!
Nokuthula is twenty three years old and lives with her mother, father, two brothers (14; 34 years), three sisters (20; 28; 33 years), her daughter (1 year) and her nine nieces and nephews. No one in the house is formally employed, but three people, including Nokuthula, are beaders at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre.
Nokuthula learned to bead at the AIDS Centre in 2002, and has been making Little Travellers since then. Each doll takes her just under one hour. Nokuthula says that the Little Travellers bring her great joy and that, to her, they represent wealth because by making them she has been able to have an income.
By being involved in the crafting project at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre, Nokuthula and her sisters have been able to pool their money and put their little sister through school. Furthermore, after one of her older sisters passed away earlier this year, the family was able to afford to have a funeral service because of the money generated by the beading.
Depending on the order, Nokuthula generally earns between R80 and R300 each week from making Little Traveller dolls. With it, her family is able to pay for food and school fees for the younger children in the family. In addition, she now has money for her transportation and says that she feels much more independent. Her family now has enough money that the children are now given pocket money to spend on things like going to movies!
Ntombilezi is a fifty-four year old granny who makes Little Travellers at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust in South Africa. Ntombilezi lives with her husband, 57, and her three children, ages 19, 21 and 23. She also has two grandchildren.
Ntombilezi says that she first learned to bead when she was twenty-one years old, and that she learned the skill at home, where beading was done by many girls. She has been making Little Travellers since 2004, and can make one doll in twenty minutes.
Ntombilezi says that the Little Traveller have been important to her as they have boosted her confidence by enabling her to become a bread-winner for her family. Ntombilezi says that her participation in the beading project has improved her life because she can now provide the essential items to sustain her family. The Little Travellers generate R100-R200 each week for Ntombilezi, and she says that this has enabled her to extend her home, buy food and obtain anything else that she feels she might need.
Ntombilezi has taught her daughter to make Little Travellers too, and they find it to be fun and relaxing. Ntombilezi also values the Little Travellers because she says hat they represent the HIV/AIDS pandemic. When not making Little Travellers, Ntombilezi finds relaxation in cleaning her house.
Sibongile is a fifty-three year old crafter who makes Little Traveller dolls at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust.
Sibongile cares for her 24-year-old son, her 23-year-old daughter, and her four year old grandson. Sibongile's sister and her brother-in-law passed away, and she is now caring for their daughter, who is 21 years old.
Sibongile is a volunteer home-based carer, and she has been doing this since 1989. Currently, she cares for seven clients, and she usually visits two clients at their homes each day. Their, Sibongile bathes her clients, cleans their homes, and administers medications; she also helps with cooking. Sibongile has learned new skills being a home-based carer. She does it because she cares about people and she hopes to one day become a nurse.
Sibongile was taught to bead by other home-based carers, and has been making Little Travellers since last year. She can make up to twenty dolls in a single day! Through the Hillcrest AIDS Centre's Woza Moya income-generation project, Sibongile has learned to be independent and says that learning how to make things has made her feel creative. More importantly, though, being involved in the beading at the AIDS Centre has ensures that she and her family do not have to go to bed hungry.Sibongile says that she makes approximately seventy rand a week from the Little Travellers. With it, she buys rice, cooking oil, bath soap and powdered soap, and meats. To relax, she goes to church on Sundays.
Sibongile is a thirty-eight year old woman who makes Little Travellers at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre. Sibongile lives with her sister, who is thirty-two, and her three children, ages 10, 14 and 21 years.
Sibogile has been beading for only four months, after having learned at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre. She initially came to the centre when her mother fell ill; she has since passed away. In the past four months, Sibongile has been making Little Traveller dolls, and it takes her about two hours to make each. In an average week, she receives about R214 from making them, and with this money she is able to buy food for her family. To her, the Little Travellers mean independence: because of them, she now has money and new skills!
Sylvia Nxumalo is a 48 year old beader at the Hillcrest Aids Center. Her family includes her husband (48), daughter (29), son (25), son (23), daughter (19), son (6), and her grandchild (12). Her niece, (21) stays with her as well, because her parents are unemployed and cannot support her. Sylvia cares for the entire household! To reduce stress, Syvlia goes to church every Thursday and Sunday.
Both Sylvia and her daughter have been home-based carers since 2000. Sylvia has five patients. She volunteered to become a home-based carer because she just loves helping people.
Sylvia started beading in 1999, when Hillcrest Aids Centre CEO Julie Hornby opened an office in Molweni and asked for people to learn to bead; those future beaders then helped each other learn and taught each other techniques. She has been making Little Travellers since 2002. Each Little Traveller takes her 30 minutes to make.
When Sylvia, sees Little Travellers, she sees money - they are how she makes a living. She considers the income from Little Travellers separate from the income from the other crafts: she is able to buy food and is developing herself because now she is earning her own income.
Before beading, Sylvia was unable to find a job, but now because of beadwork, she is able to do things for herself. In addition, she now has more confidence because she is self-sufficient. In fact, she is able to help her husband pay for school fees for their children!
Because of the income received for making Little Travellers, Sylvia has been able to build four rooms onto her home. Also, she is saving money from the dolls to send her son to nursing school. To Sylvia, Little Travellers make a difference as she is now able to support her husband. She hopes that there will be a big order for many Little Travellers soon!
Thembisile is a thirty-six year old woman who makes Little Travellers as part of the Woza Moya craft project of the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust.
Thembisile lives with her forty-six year old boyfriend and her twenty year old daughter. She is a home-based carer and also provides care at the AIDS Centre's respite unit. Thembisile cares for six patients in the community, and generally will visit each client twice a week. Thembisile says that being a carer is a difficult job, but that it makes her aware of her feelings and of the situations of others, and that this has helped to make her a more compassionate person.
Thembisile has been beading since 2002, when she was taught by a beader at the AIDS Centre. She has been making Little Travellers since 2003, and can now make as many as 25 in a single day! Thembisile says that she loves the Little Travellers, and that they are like human beings or even little caricatures of people.
By making the Little Travellers, Thembisile has been able to earn, on average, R300 each week. She says that beading has had the biggest impact of anything in her life. The money that she has earned because of it has enabled her to send her daughter to school. In addition, she has been able to pay for things for her home, like a microwave oven and new paint. Using the money from beading, Thembisile has also been able to dig a bore-hole in order to connect the water pipes and taps in her house!Thembisile proudly points out that she really enjoys making beadwork! In addition, Thembisile likes to go to church and she also really enjoys being able to go into town once in a while to buy clothes and meat.
Thenjiwe is a beader and home-based carer at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust. Thenjiwe, 30, lives with her mother and two sisters, as well as her four nephews.
Thenjiwe has been a home-based carer since 2000. She cares for four clients at present, and she says that she enjoys it a lot. She has been beading since 2003, when she learned at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre.�Since 2004, she has been making Little Traveller dolls. Each doll takes her approximately 80 minutes. She makes the Little Travellers with red ribbons on their dresses, and says that it helps keep her aware of the disease too.
Thenjiwe says that beading has helped her to be able to provide care as a home-based carer, and to add meaning to the lives of others. She makes approximately R80 each week from making the Little Travellers, and she uses this to pay for food and also to buy things that she likes. Thenjiwe says that for fun she likes to sing and to watch movies with her family.
Tholakele is a forty-eight year old beader and home-based carer at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust. She lives with her husband and cares for her four children. In addition, two children of Tholakele's sister were left in her care after her sister died of AIDS.
Tholakele says that she has been a home-based carer for a long time, and she has many clients. Currently, she cares for ten clients. Tholakele says that the job is hard, but she loves doing it.
Tholakele says that she has been beading her entire life, and that she has been making the Little Travellers for several years already. She can make up to five in a day, and says that, to her, they represent different people. Beading has provided for Tholakele and her family, and making Little Travellers earns her between R200 and R400 per week. She enjoys beadwork, and also goes to church to relax.
Winnie is a creator of Little Travellers at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust. Winnie 47, cares for her three daughters (30, 28, 25), her two sons (16, 6) and five grandchildren. She has been beading since she learned at the Centre in 2003, and has been making Little Travellers for three years.
Winnie says that being involved in the beading projects of the Hillcrest AIDS Centre has helped her a lot: she says that this is because the people she works with can related to her situation and her hardships, and that this has brought a lot of meaning to her life.
Winnie can make a Little Traveller in thirty to forty-five minutes, and she says that she generally earns around R80 each week from making them. She says that this has helped her with the needs of her home and with buying enough food for her family. To relax, Winnie enjoys going to Church.
Zibuyile is a forty year old beader who makes Little Travellers at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust. Zibuyile lives with her husband and they have four children, ages 6, 12, 13 and 18.
Zibuyile has been a home-based carer for four years. She has five clients, and she visits some of them at home up to two times per day. There, Zibuyile washes them, cleans the home and gives medicines, among other tasks. She says that it is not difficult for her to be a home-based carer anymore because she has done it so long that she feels comfortable in the job. She says that she likes to help sick people and initially started as a home-based carer because she wasn't working.
Zibuyile has been beading since 2006, and has been making Little Travellers for just five months; each one takes her approximately one hour. To Zibuyile, Little Travellers represent beauty. Because of being involved in the Hillcrest AIDS Centre's beading projects, Zibuyile now has money to buy food and look after her children, which is especially important because her husband has been unable to work for fifteen years. By making Little Travellers, Zibuyile has been bringing home approximately R500 per week, and this has enabled her to pay for her water and electricity bills for her home. In addition, the Hillcrest AIDS Centre has helped Zibuyile's family by paying for the school fees for three of her school-aged children, in addition to providing stationary and other materials for school.