Rare Bears South Africa
Photo Cred: Rare Bear

The “I have a name” photographer encouraged the public to support Rare Bears project to boost sales before the festive season… and it worked!


Johannesburg, South Africa – The stories on “I have a name” are told by the incredible South Africans in the photos… raw and unedited. It’s a showcase of humanness, a reminder that behind every face, is a name. The photographer, who remains anonymous, uses her skill to share the stories of people she meets along the way. At the end of October, she met a new mom who also works for the Rare Bear Project.

There are the cutest teddy bears being made locally which not only create jobs but also much-needed awareness for Rare Diseases South Africa.

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 nine ladies…and has grown to 50 ladies crocheting and creating the most beautiful Rare Bears.

The Rare Bear Project is all about supporting their community. From providing support to our Rare families to creating jobs and income-generating opportunities to the woman of Kya Sands. 100% of our income goes straight back into this project.

The photographer shared the mother’s story to encourage the public to support the Rare Bear Project so the women involved can earn extra money for the festive season.

“My name is Shelter, and I am a mom to my new twin girls, Marvelous and Melody. They were born 2 months ago weighing 2.3 and 2.7 kg. I have been breastfeeding them from the start and that takes most of my time and energy these days.” – Shelter, new mom.

The incredibly talented photographer shared the back story of how Rare Bears was started and how she became involved in the project back in 2015.

‘Shelter still finds time to crochet though, she is one of the 50 ladies that is part of the Rare Bear Project – a crochet upliftment project in the informal settlement of Kya Sands. Supporting this project helps Shelter and the other women who are part of the project to earn a living to support themselves and their children.

Women and children living in the informal settlement are some of the most vulnerable members of society and often have to rely on boyfriends or husbands to support them. This project empowers them to earn money, make decisions for themselves and leave abusive relationships because they become financially independent.’

Photo Credit: I Have a Name / Facebook

‘I’ve personally been involved in the project since the start in 2015. We started with 9 women whom we taught to crochet animals for Rare Diseases South Africa. All the money from sales was poured back into the project and women. We started with giraffes, then added elephants and now have 7 animals in the range. Each ‘Rare Bear’ has a Rare Bear heart to identify it as part of the project.

If you live in the Northern Suburbs you will almost certainly have seen the spin-off effect of this project. As the women got confident in their skills and creativity, some started selling at the street corners and robots. Although it was exciting to see women empowered to make a living off a skill, the sale of the animals at the robots started hindering the Rare Bear project as some of the women were selling them for much cheaper at the robots, hardly making any profit and lessening the sales of the group.

After group discussions the women agreed that the 7 animals unique to the Rarebear project should not be sold at the robots, but that they could create anything else with their skill and sell those where ever they wanted – as long as it was not the Rarebear sheep, elephant, lion, bunny, unicorn, giraffe, or zebra.

As Christmas approaches, we would love to increase sales so that the women can enjoy the holiday period without extra financial pressure.’

After the anonymous photographer shared Shelter’s story and her own involvement with the Rare Bear Project, she shared an update about what the photo story did.


“Wow, what an incredible response to the post of Shelter and her twins and the Rare Bear project she is a part of!  We completely ran out of stock and had to ask the ladies to immediately make some more bears to re-stock!

I can now happily tell you that we have new stock- and these Rare Bears are part of our new improved range – we are always trying to encourage growth and improvement in the products and the ladies have been so proud of their new bears and we are incredibly proud of them as well. ( The 7 ladies in the photo won the prize for best bear in each category a few weeks back)” 

Photo Credit: I Have A Name / Facebook

How you can help

(Stock and pre-orders available now on the website)

  1. There were a few people who wanted to help Shelter and her twins out specifically – Please contact Megan on this email address for this: hello@rarebearproject.org
  2. To buy yourself a Rarebear or someone else – https://www.rarebearproject.org/shop
  3. Visit the Rarebear project page – https://www.facebook.com/RareBearsSA/

Sources: I Have A Name / Rare Bears (linked above)
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Tyler Leigh Vivier
About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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