The Sewing Workshop

The sewing workshop was never part of the original plan for The Sijwa Project. Covid-19 brought about the vision to include a sewing workshop. With so much time on everyone’s hands as the Lodges came to a complete standstill when the COVID-19 Pandemic hit the world, Dusty and Tinolla thought it would be time well spent sewing uniquely designed bathrobes for the lodges and kaftans that would be ready for sale once guests return. All it required was a sewing machine and some fabric, or so they thought. Sadly none of their staff could sew and this drove them to find a way to make this new dream for a sewing workshop a reality.

Tinolla engaged in discussions with Nikita Rix, owner of The Collective Boutique in Windhoek and Swakopmund as well as Sandra Baumeister, owner of Myeisha Namibia, home to handmade leather handbags.  

Dusty sprung into action and with a small team from the community (creating further employment during COVID) built the first workshop for this collaboration out of empty plastic mineral water bottles filled with plastic waste and sand.

Sandra from Myeisha donated 3 sewing machines, an over locker, sewing kits, an expert trainer to train the ladies as well as a purchase order for 200 ‘shopper’ bags designed specially for Myeisha’s handcrafted leather handbags and their Inami Safaris. Nikita from The Collective Boutique donated fabric and sewing kits. Nikita Rix secured two of South Africa’s top fashion designers; Isabelle De Villiers and Michelle Ludek to travel to the Zambezi in 2022 to design patterns for garments and kaftans for the lodges and to personally train the ladies on how to sew these designer garments. The completed garments will grace the rooms and curio shops of Nambwa and Kazile as well as the Collective Boutiques and the fashion houses of both designers back in South Africa. 

The Sijwa Project’s sewing workshop employed 4 ladies in October 2020, Esther, Vivian, Merrina and Annie (an orphan since birth). They are from the villages in the Mayuni Conservancy.  These four ladies have never worked before, never been taught a skill to create an income from. Today, their hearts are filled with gratitude for the opportunity created by a tiny dream, which became a reality in such a short period of time. It is our wish to have this workshop grow so that Sijwa is in a position to employ a further 4-8 ladies or more for the sewing workshop.

“We could not be prouder of this incredible synergy, a collaboration, which have empowered women in one of the most remote locations in Namibia and in the heart of the World’s Largest Conservation Area.”

women at the sewing workshop

“The Sijwa Dress” the First garment made at the Sijwa Project

Chanique Rabe, Miss Supranational 2021, designed the Sijwa dress as part of her Nami Nami collection in April 2021. During one of her visits to train at The Junior Sewing School, she took the 4 seamsters from the Sewing Workshop of The Sijwa Project through more in-depth training on how to sew. The Sijwa dress is a linen, easy to wear dungaree style dress. Chanique then taught the women step-by-step how to sew the dress from the pattern she had designed specifically for The Sijwa Project. Once completed the girls modelled the finished garment with absolute pride. 
The Sijwa seamstresses proceeded to make their own uniforms in a bright happy yellow, using the design of the red linen Sijwa Dress.
The Sijwa Dress features on Chanique’s online shopping boutique Nami Nami as well as in the curio shop of Nambwa Tented Lodge. You may also place your order using the online form below.

The official launch of the Sijwa dress took place on the 2nd of October 2021.

This dress is made exclusively at The Sijwa Project, in the heart of KAZA.     

woman wearing the Sijwa dress

Order Your Own Sijwa Dress!

For only N$925

How You Can Help

We at African Monarch Lodges, through this diverse initiative, have created renowned guest experiences through intuitive moments of contact with our people. We are developing artisan skills and enriching the lives of our youth and our community whilst protecting the habitat and respecting nature’s course. We trust that you will feel our passion and enthusiasm for the success of The Sijwa Project and would help us achieve the full potential for this remote part of Namibia. We would appreciate any form of support.

We thank you for selecting to stay at our African Monarch Lodges, as your stay makes an enormous difference within the local community through our monthly contributions as a Joint Venture Partner with the Mayuni and Mashi Conservancies.

Bank Details

The Sijwa Project,
Standard Bank, Namibia,
Acc: 60003912069,
Branch: Windhoek,
Branch Code: 082372,
Swift Code: SBNMNANX

Please use the facet of the Sijwa project you would like to donate to as a reference:
The Permaculture Centre, Glass Recycling Workshop, Aluminium Recycling Workshop, Tree Nursery for the offset of carbon emissions, Elephant Friendly Beehive Project, Junior Sewing School, Junior Ranger School, Sewing Workshop.