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Miracles Galore

Gertrude and Lindy dye wool for a new rug behind their weaving studio.

Miracles Galore

     As the busload of American tourists, each laden with woven goods and great good cheer, pulls out of the mission yard, the six women of the coop ulululululu wildly, clap and pat each other on the back laughing. “We will eat chicken for dinner this Sunday!” Gertrude tells me with her wide, gap toothed smile. 
      They are celebrating, for the $350 collected today will be their first full monthly salary in years. They thank the Lord that somehow this strange white woman, Judy, appeared at their door one day last December and offered to try to help them. They had no wool, no orders but they came daily to the studio because that is what they had done for the past 30 years. She came back and she found wool and she helped and she is still here now writing these words. The bus that just left is proof of a brighter future.
       Regina and I sit together by her tapestry loom recovering from the excitement. I shake my head, shrug my shoulders and smile. She reaches her hand up, points to the sky and smiles with a slow knowing nod of her head.
       It is the sound of the spinning wheel whirring as Anna spins the round coils of Karakul wool into yarn and the thump, thump, thump of Gertrude and Lindy beating weft into warp on the big frame loom that has helped me to become fully alive again after a year of breast cancer treatments. It is watching a woman in bright cottons walking tall across the lawn with a bucket of water on her head and the joy in Anna Mduli’s laughter, the hum, the rhythm of the Tsonga words that ebb and flow round the big studio. It is sitting outside on a bench beside the fire and trying to mix the perfect color in the rusty tin cup to add to the boiling cauldron before the wet skeins of white wool are lowered in. It is four-year-old Sampiwe curled by my side as we watch her grandmother's swift fingers move through the threads creating a flow of bright colors. Being daily in the presence of these rural African women in the studio of the Mapusha Weaving Cooperative on the grounds of the Catholic Mission in Rooiboklaagte, South Africa, is my miracle.



amymorros's picture

So Many Miracles

Thank you for sharing. What a life changing experience you have had. These women have touched your life in so many ways. Creating a sustainable business and seeing the impact on these rural African women's lives is a powerful thing. I really support women-owned, fair trade cooperatives and am so glad to have heard about Mapusha.


Judy Miller's picture

back again

Dear Amy, thank you for your response to my sharing. I just returned to SA after a few months in the states and I cannot wait to get up to the coop and see the women tomorrow. I wish I had made it a bit more of a sustainable business during my 8 year sojourn with them but still working on it.

Tina's picture

It is touching to read about

It is touching to read about your experiences and how these women have had such an indelible impression on you.
Thanks so much for sharing your story.
Warm Regards

Breese's picture

This is a wonderful story,

This is a wonderful story, and your dedication to helping their cooperative be sustainable and grow is admirable. Thank you for sharing it!

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