(East London) – What started out as a pensioners’ loyalty programme at an East London mall two years ago has turned into a fully fledged community project in Mdantsane township.
Mdantsane City shopping centre’s “gogo knitting project” has proven so successful that it has been officially registered as a non-profit organisation. Now known as Kha’wenze Community Care Centre, the project has seen a re-energised group of 40 senior citizens learning marketable crafts such as knitting, sewing and beadwork.
Now, the project is seeing the gogos – as the ladies are affectionately known – passing these craft skills to the township youth. They meet every Wednesday at the mall to share a meal sponsored by Pick n Pay and work on their handiwork, which they also sell market-style to Mdantsane City shoppers.
Mall marketing manager Wendy Zitha said her team were very proud of the project and the dedication and commitment shown by the senior citizens.
“This initiative has been more successful than we could ever have dreamed possible,” said Zitha. “What’s great is that the youth are now also being empowered, and by the senior citizens!”
To assist with funding, Zitha said Kha’wenze would be among the main beneficiaries of the shopping centre’s festive season photo campaign.
From December 9 to 24, parents can bring their children to have a photo taken with Santa, who will park his sleigh at the Christmas tree in the Woolworths Court from 9am to 6pm daily. A portion of the proceeds from the photos, which cost R20 each, will be shared between the gogo project and a number of child-headed households identified by local charity organisations. The latter will also be given parcels of toys, clothing and groceries sponsored by stores at the shopping centre.
“At this time of year, when we celebrate with our loved ones, it’s important to remember the orphans and those who don’t have family,” said Zitha, adding that the shopping centre would focus on a few additional family-oriented activations throughout the festive season.
Mdantsane City would be also easing the burden of stressed-out parents by hosting a Kiddies’ Corner from December 9, she said, where parents would be able to drop their children off for a maximum of two hours.
“We welcome children between the ages of two and 10 years, and they can look forward to fun times with colouring-in competitions, watching cartoons and playing games.”
Rounding out the family entertainment will be the return of the Buffalo City Summer Carnival on December 12 and 13. Hosted by the local municipality, the annual roadshow has stopped off at Mdantsane City every December since 2008.
“For two days, our parking area will be home to the carnival and our shoppers will be able to enjoy local and national musical acts, interesting stalls from local businesses and our mall tenants, as well as kids’ activities and sporting entertainment,” said Zitha.