Woza Moya – A Beacon in South Africa’s HIV / AIDS Pandemic – Part 2

Woza Moya Upcycling

Woza Moya Upcycling is a key part of Woza Moya and the Hillcrest AIDS Centre trust and not only brings in well needed funds for the centre but is also playing a huge role in the recycling of unwanted waste that would otherwise go to landfill. Have a look at the amazing products these recycling masters create!

Woza Moya & Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust

In case you haven’t seen Part 1 of our Woza Moya post, here’s a quick rundown. Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust and Woza Moya are a lifeline of support and hope to hundreds, (thousands if you include their dependents), of otherwise desperate people. All whilst masquerading as a beautiful little craft shop. Although specialising in traditional beadwork, they also sell all types of African art and craft. This includes  painting, sewing, wirework, crochet, pottery, fabric painting and woodwork. As well as this, repurposing and upcycling waste to make beautiful products.


The Masters of Woza Moya Upcycling

During our visit, we met Francis in the Upcycling Centre at Woza Moya / Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust. Now Francis has the most amazing job for which he is perfect. He upcycles stuff! And when I say stuff, I mean all those random things that we think are useless and throw away.


Francis - Woza Moya upcycling

Francis – Upcycling King


He is so incredibly creative he makes all sorts of beautiful house accessories, and bags out of anything – plastic, glass bottles, even old teabag packets are just a few examples. These are made into a variety of bags of different sizes, light fittings and lamp stands which then go up for sale in the shop! There was even a large box of bottle tops, awaiting such inspiration from Francis!


Glass Cutting Supremo Frank

We also met Frank, who painstakingly ‘cuts’ down old donated wine bottles with a hot and cold water process. The edges are filed down so they’re safe and these are then sold as drinking glasses and lights! Ingenious!


Frank cutting bottles to upcycle at Hillcrest aids centre

Frank – supremo glass upcycler


Entering Verna’s Magical Haberdashery Grotto!

Textiles are donated which are then painstakingly sorted by Verna and her team into colours and types. These are then sold on to those who can make items that then also go up for sale in the craft shop. To buy these textiles, are to us pennies and cents, but to a rural South African, it can still be a large amount.


Verna at Woza Moya - Haberdashery Queen - Woza Moya upcycling

Verna – Haberdashery and Textiles Queen


Supporting the Gogos (aka Granny Support Group)

Very sadly, much of the older generation have outlived their children and there are just under 2 million orphans due to the AIDS crisis in South Africa. Grandparents are left to look after their grandchildren, and understandably are ill-equipped to cope with the emotional, physical and financial issues that come with looking after children. Not only that, they could have as many as 20 grandchildren to support. So, the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust gives lessons to the grannies, (or gogos) in their local area, to empower, educate and uplift them in caring for their grandchildren.


In addition to all of this, the grounds are set in a garden nursery. The nursery features some of Francis’ upcycling shoes with great shrubs and flowers.


Woza Moya upcycling - shoes

Upcycled shoes for sale in the nursery


Respite Unit

There is a 24-bed respite and care unit for those affected by the disease which is free – something that’s uncommon in South Africa. The number of patients who came out of there in the early days, was very limited. This was when HIV and AIDS were taboo and there was neither the understanding of the disease, nor the drugs to help. Now, it’s about 75% who come out and can go on leading a ‘normal’ life.

All the fundraising that Woza Moya and the HACT raise, goes towards the running of this.


Photography: Francis the king of the Upcycling Container and Glass Cutting Supremo Frank

In the Woza Moya upcycling centre, there was bright light streaming into the container that Francis is king of! This makes photographing quite difficult because of the extreme exposure values. Therefore, we had to position ourselves in a way that we weren’t picking up the super bright sunlit areas we knew would just blow out. In contrast, in the room of glass bottle supremo Frank, it was quite dark and small. To overcome this, we had to up the ISO on our cameras, as we were handholding and he was moving. Thankfully, the low light ability of digital SLRs now is exceptionally good. The little bit of grain you do get is easily removable in a Camera Raw converter or Photoshop. We both actually find, that a little bit of grain adds to the organic-ness, look and feel of an image.


cut bottles to upcycle at Hillcrest aids centre

Cut bottles to upcycle at Hillcrest AIDS Centre


We spent quite a while being shown around Woza Moya and photographing, but no images can do justice to the incredible work that the Woza Moya team are doing. As you can see, all the wonderful people involved in HACT and Woza Moya have a passion: a passion to empower and uplift those who have been affected in many ways by HIV / AIDS.


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