In Tanzania, Recycled Bottle Christmas Ornaments Give Hope To Disabled

shanga tree photo


These beautiful Christmas stars were made in Tanzania by Shanga, a small company with a heartwarming story.

The stars are made of recycled materials. They come in 15 different colours, are affordable and going like hotcakes.

bead making photo

Photo: Shanga

It's a great story of people overcoming disability and despair. People who are deaf or disabled in Tanzania have a difficult time and there are few facilities for them. A Dutch Tanzanian woman started working with the deaf and blind and came upon the idea of having them do arts and crafts. She began selling their work at local markets.

They started with necklaces which were sold locally and then from as far away as Kenya and Tanzania where safari companies sold them to tourists. Most of their pieces are made of materials which have been recycled. The Christmas decorations are made from beads which were created from local bottles melted down in a workshop.

glass beads photo

Photo: Shanga

Shanga is the KiSwali word for bead. Now the company employs 34 deaf and blind Tanzanian people, and have a restaurant and a shop for their goods. All income from the Shanga workshop, restaurant and shop sales goes towards employing more disabled people. The company is not a charity or an NGO. The owner and director, Saskia Rechsteiner, says "What we want to do is make a good quality product that people want to buy, and which helps so many deaf people earn a salary who otherwise would have nothing."

masai beadwork photo

Photo: Shanga

As the company develops and grows they can hire more people. It is their fourth anniversary this Christmas. So help them celebrate and spread the love by ordering a lovely decoration.

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