In 2005 a group of adult polio victims, many of whom were begging on the streets in Dar es Salaam Tanzania, came together with help from Blue Mango Photography, funds from The Dar es Salaam Charity Goat Races and great support from big companies in Dar who donated their scrap metal, and established a welding workshop. Here, with training from a local welding expert they were taught how to weld and, using recycled scrap metal, started very quickly to make all sorts of animals and boats which were sold locally.
After a few months we were lucky to have Heather Cumming, a professional artist from Scotland, come to Dar es Salaam for two months to train the welders in the finer art of metal sculpture. After her visit we held an exhibition and with the funds raised we officially launched the project and registered as the WONDER WORKSHOP, a Tanzanian NGO. The sales of the items sustain the project so we are self-sufficient and expanding rapidly to keep up with demand. The 40 people who are currently employed on a full-time basis are paid a good salary so that they can support themselves and their families. In the future we hope to continue to expand the Workshop and have more disabled Tanzanians come and join us so we can expand our market, both within and outside of Tanzania.
Since the start in 2005 we have gone from strength to strength and besides our famous welding products, launched several new product lines.
Later in 2005 with training of Chris Weinberger a group of disabled men were trained to make handmade wooden toys. Renewable, environmentally sensitively sourced Tanzanian woods are used to make these high quality toys which are held together without nails or screws and finished with coconut oil.We now have a large range of great quality wooden products to offer.
Then in 2006 a group of disabled women joined the Wonder Workshop and were trained in the art of papermaking. Using waste paper, cardboard boxes and newspapers with natural fibres such as banana fibre, pineapple tops and onion skins they make beautiful handmade paper and paper products in different colors.We make beautiful paper products such as cards, books and calendar with the paper.Please see the Gallery for photos of our collection.
Later that year, another group was trained in the art of soap making by Shireen Mahdi. Locally sourced oils are blended together with Zanzibari essential oils and spices to create an exotic range of soaps in different size and with different wrapping. A favorite of many people and hotelguests around Tanzania.
Following the Bottles 2 Beads Workshop held in 2007 where four Ghanaian bead-makers came to Tanzania to train groups how to turn old bottles and broken window panes into beads, the bead-making project started at the Wonder Workshop. We thankfully use the empty wine and beer bottles Dar residents produce each week! We especially love colours like dark blue, light blue, black and any other exotic colored glass.
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