A couple inspired by a trip to South Africa are urging Swindon residents to think twice when making a brew.
Bob and Lyn Newman from Westlea are convinced that ordinary tea bags could improve the lives of people on another continent. After seeing first-hand the poverty that engulfs people living in the sprawling townships of South Africa they are determined to help one refreshing project.
While visiting the Imazamo Yethu township near Cape Town the couple met Englishwoman Jill Heyes over a cup of tea. She has started an unusual business, Original T-Bag Designs, providing work for local people who would otherwise be unemployed.
They use dried teabags – emptied of tea leaves – to decorate cards, stationery, packaging, wooden boxes, mats, coasters and candle holders.
But they need more. Bob and Lyn hope to provide Jill with a constant supply of teabags with the help of readers. Bob wants to find ways to sell the finished products in the UK, a move that would be particularly helpful during the winter months in Cape Town when there are far fewer tourists visiting the area.
The couple had no intention of visiting a township, as they did not wish to intrude on the misfortune of others. Luckily they were convinced by a tour guide that it might be a rewarding experience, and travelled to the settlement of Imazamo Yethu at Hout Bay.
"What we saw brought home to us, in a very brutal way, how fortunate we are to have a lifestyle which gives us more than just the basic necessities of life, and to live in a country with a social support system," said Bob. "Many of the families in Imazamo Yethu does not have electricity, running water, or sewage disposal. In spite of their hardship, the people we met were cheerful and friendly."
Those lucky enough to be at the top of the list for more permanent housing, are slowly being helped by a building project privately funded from Ireland, where volunteers travel to South Africa for a short period each year to construct small concrete block houses. In the context of Imazamo Yethu these small dwellings are luxury compared to the very basic plastic sheet and corrugated iron shacks which are home to whole families.
Jill?s project provides hope and money to settlements like Imazano Yethu, and the simple act of saving a teabag could make a positive difference for hundreds of people.
Anyone interested in saving and recycling used tea bags should contact Bob Newman on 872389 or mail: email@example.com