Women use recycled X-ray films to create cloth for sale

United Methodist women in Zimbabwe are using expired and discarded X-ray films to create cloth used in products they can sell to generate income.

The Chitungwiza-Marondera District women's union held a craft workshop to teach women how to make the cloth. The women also learned a variety of other skills, including smocking, basket beading and making patchwork bedcovers for cots.

“We were taught how to create unique cloth prints using expired X-ray pictures and tree leaves and branches,” said Emilia Mafuratidze.

Using plain white poly-cotton fabric, the 26 women from 13 churches designed different attractive prints using patterns cut on X-ray films. 

“We can tell a story in a series of pictures, or just draw the pictures we want to use for designing the fabric,” Mafuratidze said.

The women cut out the pictures using scissors or razor blades and use the design to print on the cloth.  Mafuratidze said grass can also be used for the background patterns, and the women can sew skirts, aprons, bedcovers, curtains and tablecloths from the fabric.

“I intend to train women in my church and local community because once the society gains such skills, it will be easy to achieve our commission of making disciples for Jesus Christ,” Mafuratidze said.

Be sure to add the alt. text

Women use a discarded X-ray film as a stencil to print fabric. Photo by Eveline Chikwanah, UMNS.

Sustaining families

One of the workshop coordinators, Rezeni Muchingami, said the training would enable women to sustain their families.

“We are living in a challenging economic environment, and the handiwork skills taught here will enable women to earn a living and improve their lifestyles,” said Muchingami, a pastor's wife.

Ideally, she said, women should form groups of up to 10 people to pool their resources and buy the fabric, paint and other materials required to start a small business.            

“The printed skirts which were taught at this workshop can be sold for $10, while the cot covers can fetch up to $20. We traveled extensively and assessed the costs of producing these items and whether there is a market for them,” Muchingami said.

She said the products could be sold in bulk to shops that specialize in traditional African wear. 

Lizzy Kaseke, 55, was grateful for the opportunity to learn beading and patchwork. “The patchwork cot covers will make a unique present, especially for my grandchildren,” she said.  “We learned not to throw away pieces of fabric. They can make beautiful patchwork designs for bedcovers.”

Exhibit planned

Nancy Tarumbwa, chairperson for Chitungwiza-Marondera craft shop committee, said the church is organizing an exhibition of the products of the workshop and other crafts in May.

“We also plan to open a retail shop where women can have a ready market to sell their products.  A commission will be levied, and the proceeds will be given to the church,” said Tarumbwa.

She expressed joy at the participation by women from Svosve United Methodist Church, a rural circuit. 

“I realized women have the zeal to produce different crafts, and I am happy with the progress made by the participants at this workshop. “We aim to empower women to sustain their families and also raise funds for their churches,” she said.

The Rev. Portia Kanoyangwa, the Chitungwiza-Marondera District superintendent, said she was impressed with the work produced by the women.

“I was amazed by the participation of elderly women. They have gained skills which will help them to earn a living,” she said.

Chikwanah is a communicator of the Zimbabwe East Annual Conference.

News media contact: Vicki Brown, news editor, newsdesk@umcom.org or 615-742-5469.

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