The second in the Seeds of Change series: 20 strategies for systemic change described by the members of the Systemic Change Commission of the Vincentian Family. This week, Joseph P. Foley, C.M. writes:

Joseph P. Foley, C.M.Recently I visited a Craft Fair in New York City. One of the booths offered beautiful mats, hats, hand bags, wall decorations and photograph frames. These had been made by people in Grahamstown East, South Africa by who previously could not find employment. They had spent long hours on breadlines and the quality of their housing was abysmal.

It was suggested to the women who came for food that they could learn to make various kinds of crafts from ordinary plastic bags discarded by shoppers. The women learned to cut plastic into strips suitable for making baskets, mats and other items that could be sold. They then revived traditional Xhosa beadwork, clothing and grasswork, and they introduced the production of paper-mache furniture. This was a first small step.

The project proceeded, in fact, in Vincent’s fashion: careful planning small.

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