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Gogo Olive, an organization from Mutare, Zimbabwe, teaches us that the
gift of a skill can be the gift of hope – the most powerful gift of all.
Words & Images by Mana Meadows
“Knit – it brings hope and joy,” reads the sign hanging in the Gogo Olive headquarters, a modest workshop in Zimbabwe’s eastern city of Mutare. For the Gogo Olive women who make up the Gogo Olive family, this little sign sums it up. In a country choked with unemployment, the organisation allows these women a rare opportunity for self-sufficiency – offering them fair income in exchange for their skills, and also allowing them the freedom to work for themselves. Most of the women here are ex-prisoners, the organisation teaches them to knit whilst they are in prison, employing them too so that they are able to provide for their families even while still awaiting or serving sentences. By the time they are released, they have a livelihood, a plan, and most importantly, and incredible support network to help them reintegrate back into society.
The women knit a range of woollen African animals, the endearing animals are 100 % handcrafted and have made a name for themselves in both local and foreign markets – with big names like the UK’s John Lewis amongst those signing up for the eco-friendly, fair-traded authentic African animal characters.
Documentary and photojournalism editorial work for NGOs around Africa.
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