International Day Of Rural Women – A skills development project to empower communities

‘There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women’ [Kofi Annan]

The International Day of Rural Women was established by the United Nations General Assembly to recognise the critical role and contribution of rural and indigenous women, in enhancing rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.  Women’s empowerment is a key factor in the social and economic success of nations. When women succeed, everyone benefits.

At CCFA we work with a number of incredible women, from all walks of life, who are making a positive impact on the environment, on wildlife and the communities in which they live.  On this International Day of Rural Women we’d like to highlight the tenacity, resourcefulness and creativity of a group of women sewers who live in the small town of Kylemore in the Western Cape.

Mascots, masks and now cute Christmas stockings

Two delightful stories intertwine as we start the 71 day count down to 25 December.  The first is the tale of the origin of the Christmas stocking.  It is said the Saint Nicholas, in the spirit of Christmas, threw three bags of gold through an open window on Christmas Eve and one landed in a stocking. When the girls and their father woke up the next morning they found the bags of gold and were, of course, overjoyed.

Another feel good story is that of a group of women in the tiny settlement of Kylemore, in the Western Cape who are sewing for us to ensure a sustained income. Through a partnership with Baby Cuddles, they have been designing and producing our animal mascots. Now they have turned their talents to making Christmas stockings in three different sizes. The stockings represent a trilogy of ‘all things good’ in the spirit of Christmas.

Firstly, by ordering our stockings you will not only be assisting the sewing group, who are sole financial providers, but also their immediate and extended families who rely on this income. It also makes it possible for us give others the opportunity to join the team, learn to sew and produce beautiful items made in South Africa.  Secondly, you will be helping CCFA  raise money for the many projects we support, who are desperately in need of funding. And last but not least, that ‘feel good, fuzzy’ feeling of knowing someone is going to delight in receiving this unique stocking on Christmas morning.

It’s not the first time our team of seamstresses has been asked to adapt their products to ensure there is a continued and sustainable income for them and their families.  Initially they made the CCFA mascots  – beautifully handmade toys, each with an individual character and personality, making them an ideal gift.  Besides the original rhino, the range now includes elephants, gorillas, turtles and Bongos. These are sold at all the Mantis lodges and the profits used to support wildlife, environmental and community projects.

Then as the Covid-19 lockdown closed down tourism they turned their talents into making masks, out of Shweshwe cotton and strictly according to the Department of Health guidelines. They also started sewing bags for the hotels in the Mantis Collection when they opened again.  These contain, amongst other items, sanitisers and will be given to each guest upon arrival.

Now they are excited to be part of the stocking project. Melanie Laing of Baby Cuddles, who has partnered with us in the sewing project says, ‘I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to work with a team of very talented, wonderful women who are always happy and full of smiles, no matter what life throws at them.

‘Four of our sewers are working on this particular project and we are delighted to be starting this soon.  We are so grateful to our guardian angels, CCFA for constantly bringing in new ideas, providing sustainable work for our team and using their network to sell our crafts.’

CCFA is making the Christmas stockings to create work for the team and to raise money for various environmental projects.  The more orders received, the more work generated which means these ladies have higher earning potential and will be able to enjoy a Christmas of their own.

The ladies have made samples and tested the response, which has been very positive – so everyone is raring to go and we’re hoping to complete around 60 stockings a day.  We are also able to be flexible with the design and customize the stockings for corporates and include a company logo.

Orders are via our website and the stockings will be shipped directly from the group of sewers to the client.  We are appealing to corporates to support this initiative. To be a ‘secret Santa’ and to help stimulate employment and financial independence for this group of women and their families, while also contributing towards the work being undertaken by the CCFA.

With only 71 days until Christmas, order your Christmas stockings now, not only will you be helping keep the women of Kylemore employed but also helping raise money for the CCFA projects.

To order online go to or email

Large stocking, around 50cm long


Medium stocking, around 45cm long


Christmas tree decoration size, around 13cm long


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