It was a beautiful morning when the members of Dharma Wanita Persatuan KBRI Windhoek (the Indonesian Embassy Women’s Organization) headed for Penduka in Katutura.

The village was relatively quiet due to fact that the visit was on Friday when most of the Namibian women had completed their work for the week. Christofina, one of the Day Managers at Penduka, escorted us around the workshops at Penduka. The crafts made at Penduka are batik, pottery, glass beading, and various household items like tablecloths, placemats, aprons, cushion covers etc.

The tour started at the batik workshop where the women made batik designs using a flour paste compared to the wax which Indonesian batik is made of. As a matter of fact, the women at Penduka were one of the participants at the Indonesian Embassy’s Batik Workshop held a few years back.

Then we proceeded to the pottery section where Christofina explained the process of making various pottery items like cups and saucers, ashtrays, small bowls etc. using clay and other materials. During the tour we were lucky to meet Christien Roos, one of the co-founders of Penduka. Christien Roos, who is from the Netherlands, told us briefly how Penduka was founded, its mission, how the organization has tried to be self-sufficient/self-funding since its establishment in 1992, and how they have managed to survive all these years.

Unfortunately we were not able to see the embroidery workshop that day because the women come only twice or three times a week to Penduka and do their embroidery there. They mostly do it at home and come to Penduka to hand in their finished work. Christofina then showed us the glass-beads project, where necklaces and bracelets are made using glass-beads formed from used wine or beer bottles. What drew our admiration was the fact that hearing impaired women did the painstaking manual process of breaking down the glass bottles, grinding it into a powdered form and then heating/burning it in a clay furnace to produce glass-beads.

Our trip to Penduka wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t stop by the shop where they sold all the crafts/objects made in the workshops. The prices on some of the products were expensive, but for valid reasons. Earnings from these products are a source of income for the many women working at Penduka and their families who are trying to make ends meet, put children in school, care for elderly family members and basically to improve their quality of lives.

We ended our excursion to Penduka at their café which served coffee, tea, cakes and sandwiches. We were certainly impressed by what we had seen at Penduka. In all of its simplicity, Penduka which means “wake-up”, has managed to provide less privileged Namibian women with a means of income and be self-sufficient, and also a “wake-up” call for us to find ways in which we can help empower other women in less privileged circumstances.