6 March, 2009
Recycling, including glass recycling, barely exists in Tanzania. However, a small, yet an important step has been taken forward as a project between a Finnish glass artist, Jukka Isotalo and a local recycling based NGO, Wonder Workshop took place in Dar es Salaam in February 2009. The project was funded by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs through the Embassy of Finland in Dar es Salaam.
Mr Jukka Isotalo (www.evolum.fi) is a well known and highly skilled Finnish glass artist who uses glass bottles which are not recyclable as well as waste material from window glass producers. From these materials he creates high quality handicrafts including wine glasses, lamps as well as other glass products. The beauty of the products do not only layin Mr Isotalo's designs but in the holistic combination where aesthetics and practicality as well as production come together in ecologically sustainable way.
The aim of the Wonder Workshop (www.wonderwelders.org), a registered Tanzanian non profit making NGO, is to provide training, employment and sustainable source of income for mostly disabled men and women in Dar es Salaam by recycling materials, scrap metal, glass, wood and paper to name a few, and turn them into high quality handicrafts. Wonder Workshop currently employs 40 Tanzanian men and women. One of the aims of the project between Mr Isotalo and Wonder Workshop is to enable the NGO to employ more staff as the project opens a way for larger high quality glass production.
For three weeks Wonder Workshop facilitated a training for their own as well as for another NGO, Africraft, employees, most of which are living with impacts of Polio. The aim of the training was to teach techniques of making new products out of recycled glass bottles. The trainees learned how to cut the glass bottles and how to grind and polish the new products into such high quality standards that, for example, drinking glasses can be made out of them. They also learned and practised basic designs and how to use sand blasting as a way of decorating the new glass products.
During the three week visit Mr Isotalo and Wonder Workshop volunteer Chris Weinberger succeeded in building on the spot all required glass production machines; cutting-, grinding-, polishing-, as well as sand blasting machines. Mr Isotalo brought with him the essential technical parts that cannot be found locally, the rest, these two, creative and skilled men put together out of local parts, scrap metal and anything useable. All machines and equipment were also designed to fit the needs of the physically disabled employees in mind. An option would have been to import all the needed machines from abroad but a wise choice was made to keep the technology as appropriate and locally sustainable as possible. This enables the future repairs and servicing with local resources.
The Finnish funded three week visit by Mr Isotalo, after months of preparation has proved to be a success and resulted in the production of new high quality recycled glass products. This will hopefully inspire other organizations and in the future create more glass recycling opportunities for the residents in Dar es Salaam. The most positive outcome of the project is the chance to create more employment opportunities, especially in the case of Wonder Workshop, amongst disabled Tanzanian men and women.
Tanzania is Finland's longest standing partner in development co-operation since 1962. The exceptionally close and warm relationship between the two countries has resulted in Tanzania becoming one of the main recipients of Finnish aid, which in 2009 will amount to over 30 million euros. The main areas of co-operation are 1) forestry and environment, agriculture, and bio-energy, 2) regional and local development, 3) budget support, 4) infrastructure focusing on energy, and 5) innovation and technology (ICT).