Inspired by Nelson Mandela’s words, “It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it,” three Umhlanga women are quite literally using their hands and creative skills to help improve the lives of others. And they’re saving the environment at the same time.
According to Magic Bean Foundation founder, Shelley Stievenart, the aim of the foundation is to mentor and empower underprivileged and homeless community members using recycled and re-purposed materials wherever possible.
The story began when 41-year-old personal trainer, Shelley decided she needed to a creative outlet and set about teaching her two boys how to knit. It did not go well, and Shelley started brainstorming other ways to fulfil her needs to create, craft and nurture. She decided to start a ‘coffee club’.
“The idea was to create a time and place where we could bring our craft supplies or knitting needles and share our skills with one another in the hopes that eventually it would branch out to other friends and neighbours. At these ‘workshops’ we could drink a lot of coffee and chat about how we could save the world and adopt every homeless child,” laughs Shelley.
With the main objective being to make something as a group to help the homeless (like blankets, scarves or beanies), Shelley and her team soon realised there could be so much more to their idea then idle chit chats over coffee. They could share the same skills they were learning with the homeless and underprivileged to aid sustainability of their own lives.
After formalising a meeting time, the team decided to name their newly formed foundation The Magic Bean Foundation.
Taking on the role of secretary, Shelley entrusted her long-time friend, Lorraine Evans to the role of chairperson. Lorraine has always been passionate about helping communities in need. “As a creative being, my heart has been searching for a connection between these two passions.,” says the mom of two who currently works as a brand consultant. Lorraine’s sister, Lucy Wheeler, joined the team as the treasurer and is passionate about finding people’s potential. “I combine my expertise in business with a passion for inspiring awesomeness in people,” says the 43-year-old business owner.
Shelley, Lorraine and Lucy registered the NPO and partnered with another NPO which shared similar objectives in the community they aimed to assist.
Shelley says the ultimate vision is to develop skills by sharing knowledge, thus creating improved lives, sustainability and restoring the planet through various projects including practical life and orientation skills and job readiness knowledge.
“We want to give opportunities to the many people who are sitting at home or on the streets not earning money. We can do this by sharing a skill with them that involves donated items or plastic they can use to create something to sell for food for their families,” says Lorraine.
The women encourage the community to create products to sell using new, old or waste materials. They also help develop entrepreneurial skills and create platforms where the public can get involved by donating used clothing items, plastic shopping packets, donated upholstery fabrics, felts, buttons, ribbons and other elements to make their products via easy drop off zones. Their goodies are available for purchase via their Facebook page and local markets.
Get in touch:
HOW TO GET INVOLVED:
The Magic Bean Foundation is looking for volunteers to help with crochet/crafting skills, or extra hands to make the products they sell to raise funds, collect plastic shopping packets and preparing the bags. People can also volunteer their time to work at markets. You can also help by sharing their story and creating awareness for the foundation.
Text: Monique De Villiers-Delport
Get It Magazine (Ballito/Umhlanga) May 2018