By Gracious Ndlovu and Tatenda Mkandawire
THEcommittee for development at Nkayi Craft Centre says it plans to turn the complex into a vocational training facility that provides youths with technical skills and education.
Chairperson of the centre Keenan Mpofu said the decision was made after the realisation that the youths in the area needed some technical skills and education to partake in employment creation projects that will improve their livelihoods.
Mpofu, who lives in Sivomo, said the goal was to ensure that the youths in the area were empowered with the right technical skills and education. This he said would help close the skills gap in the area.
“At the inception of Nkayi Craft Centre in 1990, we noted that Nkayi has vast talent when it comes to handiwork. However, there was no platform to assist, promote and celebrate such skills. So, we created a forum where one joins and subscribes to the centre,” he said.
“In reciprocation, the centre would publicise and promote his or her work. Now we want to try and develop this place into a centre that will train and develop various skills.”
Unfortunately, the centre was hit by financial problems, which led to a temporary closure.
Recent donations from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), starting in 2018, have contributed vastly to the facelift of the centre, now with yellow painted exterior walls and a freshly painted showroom.
The centre’s caretaker, Shepherd Makwindidza, is a carpenter and one of the people who showcase high-quality products.
Among some of his products on display at the centre are beds, wardrobes, stands and cupboards.
“It is my wish that the craft centre becomes a vocational training centre because people in Nkayi are sitting on their talents. I also hope that it becomes a success so that young people in Nkayi are taught skills that they can use to make a living out of,” Makwindidza said.
Among the goods displayed at the centre, which is the first building you see when you enter Nkayi from any direction, are woven baskets, bags, beaded jewellery, wardrobes, beds and cupboards.
While the committee is committed to transforming the craft centre into a vocational training centre, it has met a number of challenges that include water shortages and funding constraints.
“We are working with a number of ministries including the Ministry of Women Affairs and the Ministry of Youth to try and gain recognition and support from both the government and the public so that we develop our district.
“Our focus is on the ultimate goal of being a leading centre in crafts and arts in the district and be recognised as such in our province,” Mpofu said.