Helping women and children one stitch at a time

The H18 Foundation trains unemployed women from Joe Slovo and Phoenix to crochet a range of products.

A Milnerton charity helping women and children from Joe Slovo and Phoenix is in a race against time to find premises as its current lease comes to an end at the end of January next year.

Amanda Solomon started the H18 Foundation in 2016 to train unemployed women from Joe Slovo and Phoenix to crochet a range of products.

But when she noticed that the women were bringing their children as they could not afford to pay for creche, she decided to start the Mana School programme to teach the children foundation-phase skills in preparation for school.

Tabletalk was greeted by a group of about 20 women, whose hands were moving at a fast pace as they worked on crocheted bathroom mats. Some had babies tied to their backs while older children were in an upstairs room, learning about shapes, colours, and numbers.

“My mother taught them to crochet,” said Ms Solomon.

Each woman ties a name to the finished product, which ensures that whoever’s name is on it, will get paid for the work

This formed part of the charity’s earning and learning programme, said Ms Solomon.

They use material waste from a textile shop. It is washed, dyed, and dried and turned into bathroom mats, woven dog toys, toiletry baskets and household decorations.

The products go through a quality-control process, also managed by the women, before being sold at various markets and to businesses and those placing individual orders.

“The idea is to have every woman, of the 150 that have walked through the door, provide for their families. In most cases, this is the only income in their households. The projects are about making them self-sustainable,” said Ms Solomon.

Most of the women work for six days a week and ask Ms Solomon if they can work on Sundays too. She said others did domestic work two days a week and made their products on other days.

“Some of the women have moved onto working in warehouses, shops and have gotten other permanent jobs,” she said.

The children are given breakfast and lunch daily, and are taught by a qualified foundation-phase teacher and assistant teacher paid for by various fund-raisers.

But funds were drying up, said Ms Solomon, and the charity had started a crowdfunding campaign in September to raise R350 000. So far they have just over R35 000.

The goal was to raise enough money to secure a long-term lease, said Ms Solomon, so that more women and children, from other disadvantaged communities, could join the programme.

“We require a location where we can operate both our programmes, H18 Foundation and Mana Preschool, concurrently. We are seeking a cost-effective, extended lease arrangement to provide us with the stability to settle in without the concern of facing another relocation in the near future,” said Ms Solomon.

Yewwayi Muridzi, who had crocheted her sixth mat for the day, said it was a pleasure coming to work. She said she enjoyed working with her hands and mingling with the other women.

To help, email or visit

From left, are H18 administrator Abbie Meilech, quality controller Lusanda Nagam and H18 Foundation founder Amanda Solomon
Yewayi Muridzi and Emelidah Luciano finishing up some bathroom mats.