Starting a cooperative with only five (5) members was not an easy task for Gladys Ngozo, but eight years later, the ‘Amazebra Dignity Pack Cooperative’ based in Etwatwa, Ekurhuleni has grown to employ over 75 women.
The 59-year-old lady from Emaphupheni says in August 2012, she gathered women from her community because she saw a skills gap.
She then registered her cooperative with the Gauteng Department of Social Development with a sole aim to assist with the production of dignity packs and help women in her area to generate an income for their families.
The dignity pack programme, according to the GCR Poverty and Inequality Master Strategy 2019-2030, seeks to distribute toiletries to orphan and vulnerable girl learners who are from disadvantaged schools across Gauteng.
The learners are identified through the educational districts in consultation with school-based support teams. School health nurses, social workers, community-based workers and other key stakeholders make referrals for leaners to receive the dignity pack. This project has created jobs for the community particularly women.
“When we started the cooperative, we realised that most destitute girl children do not go to school because they do not have sanitary towels. Some prefer to be with sugar daddies because they provide for their needs,” said Ngozo.
“We thank the Department for helping us and many other coops to fight social ills that are destroying the future of our children. Through this programme, we managed to restore dignity to thousands of young girls,” she added.
With a sobbing face, Ngozo shared a sad experience where one child in a local school told her that she shares her dignity pack with her family.
She said she will always remain grateful to the Gauteng Department of Social Development because through working with cooperatives, they are able to provide for many households especially women who are previously disadvantaged.
“As we are 75 in our cooperative, I am sure that over 200 family members have benefited through this cooperative,” concluded Ngozo.
A dignity pack contains of a roll-on, toilet paper, toothpaste, sanitary towels, petroleum jelly, bar soap, and a body lotion. The pack is also customised to include a hat and sunscreen for children with Albinism.