In 2015, Rare Diseases South Africa (RDSA) commissioned toy bears for their newly registered rare disease patients. New members would be gifted stuffed bears for companionship and encouragement for their journey of survival.
Because of the nature of rare diseases, RDSA wanted unique, handcrafted bears. They wanted BEARS that were RARE.
At the same time, a local community upliftment project in Johannesburg sought to host a skills clinic for unemployed women in the nearby Kya Sands community.
A joint initiative was born. Unemployed ladies from Kya Sands were taught to crochet #RareBears. And, an income-generating platform was provided.
This project addresses two needs:
- It creates a “community of love” for Rare Diseases SA (RDSA) patients whereby #RareBears are donated to a rare disease patient via the #Care4Rare programme.
- It empowers the wonderful ladies of Kya Sands that provides them with a skill enabling them to provide for their families.
To date, this project has trained and taught over 60 women in the art of crocheting. This sustainable, income-generating opportunity making #RareBears are then donated to a rare diseases patient or sold to the public.
Buying #RareBears helps not only a patient living with a rare disease but a family in Kya Sands, too.
Two-thirds of each donation is paid back to the crochet artist who made that bear. We have helped more than 60 women generate an income since the creation of this project.
One-third of each donation is re-invested into the project to create more earning opportunities, skills training and project development initiatives to ensure sustainability.
Donations via the #Care4Rare programme have seen more than 500 #RareBears donated to rare disease patients to date.
The Rare Bear Project is committed to:
- Empowering individuals, as well as growing programme initiatives.
- Improving overall sustainability of the #RareBearProject.
- Providing support, and companionship to those impacted by rare diseases through Rare Diseases SA.
- Providing a continuous income stream for the woman making #RareBears.
- Reducing unemployment within the Kya Sands community.
- Up-skilling and training women of Kya Sands to generate income outside the #RareBearProject.
- Nurturing future entrepreneurs.