The idea was started as a way for female headed households to earn income to support their families. The crochet bears were to be given to children with rare diseases.
Rare Bears was created to teach disadvantaged ladies from Kya Sands how to crochet and have them make ‘Rare Bears’ which the NGO Rare Diseases South Africa would then buy and distribute to their patients. Not only would kids with rare diseases get a unique, made for them with love, hand made bear, but it would also empower women, teach skills and allow them to help support their families.
It started in March 2015 with 9 ladies…and has grown to 50 ladies crocheting and creating the most beautiful Rare Bears. Nozipho was one of the original 9.
“I didn’t know how to crochet when we started – it looked so difficult and I had to practice all the time. The first few giraffes we made did not look like giraffes!”
“They were so ugly – we didn’t know what we were doing at first. But as you practice, just like when you learn to read and write – you get better and better. We started with Giraffes first and then moved onto making elephants, zebras, lions, bunnies, and most recently unicorns. My favourite animal to make is a zebra.”
Nozipho is originally from Kwazulu Natal and her family is still there. Being part of the #rarebear project has made it possible for her to send money home for her children, aunts and nieces and nephews. They use the money to buy food.
“I love crocheting now. It has given me confidence and purpose. I don’t just sit around all day and feel hopeless. I know I am working and creating and it is fun to chose what colours I am going to use to make each animal. They are all different and unique.”
The Rare Bears can be purchased as a personal item which is directly shipped or as a donation. The donation means someone on their rare disease database receives a special animal of your choosing, its donated to them in your name.
It is the big corporate orders that really help this program stay afloat. If anyone is wanting to purchase large orders they can contact Megan here.