Every Saturday, anyone can come and drop off their water and ice
cream sachets at the workshop, in bundles of ten. In a large book we make note
of their names together with the items they wish in return. We send them home
with a ticket with a number and the date on which they can come and collect.
Usually this is after a week,
but if a lot of orders come in, it might take a little bit longer.
The day they come to collect their item is the most wonderful
moment: beaming kids admiring their schoolbag or whatever they might have chosen
- if it crosses their mind, a soft ‘thank you’ - and then a sprint home to show
And slowly but surely, Tamale becomes cleaner, children realize
that trash can become a treasure and are encouraged to save the sachets and hand
them in to us instead of throwing them away carelessly!
Tuma Viela is a project for the people and the environment.
It offers women and young people opportunities to develop
themselves; provides both children and adults with valuable
products made with recycled materials; helps battle
pollution; improves environmental awareness and educates.
opportunity to evolve
Northern Ghana, of which Tamale is the largest city, is, in
comparison to the rest of the country, the poorest and least
developed region, falling far behind the rest
Finding employment is difficult. Apart from some small scale
farming, most people try to survive by trading, but an
enormous amount of the population is involuntarily
unemployed. For many of them it is a daily struggle to make
ends meet and to provide for their families. Young people
hang around bored, some timid, others acting out because of
their seemingly hopeless future.
Tuma Viela offers women and young people
work, a chance to develop and evolve. The tailors can get
back behind their sewing machines and learn new skills. The
young people are being offered a chance to learn a trade,
gain job experience and learn to be part of a team.
Woman can contribute to their families with the wages from
the workshop. Some have set up their own little business
with money from Tuma Viela, which in turn provides them with
some extra income. The rhythm of daily routine is good for
the youth. It keeps them off the streets and they now have a
reason to get out of bed and start the day.
The are independent and have gained a certain
status by being employed, this does them a world of good!
They finally feel that they are being taken seriously and
you can see them thrive!
of the recycled material
Most here in Northern Ghana struggle to make ends meet. The
government provides free education but the parents are still
burdened with the purchase of items such as notebooks,
pencils, books, shoes, school uniform and schoolbags. These
costs prevent a lot of children from going to school. And
there is hardly room for anything extra in their tight
Long before the workshop is open, children
wait with their collection ticket in their hands.
In the workshop we make free products which are mainly
collected by children. They do however have to supply the
sachets with which we make these recycled products! The
schoolbag is the most wanted item we make, but there are
also raincoats, hats and caps, wallets, storage bags, pencil
cases and other items. We maintain the costs as low as we
can by using velcro instead of zippers, which also has the
advantage of being more durable.
Thousands of children already own one of our schoolbags and
this encourages them to go to school. We help lighten the
worry load of the parents when it comes to money and they
can now use their precious savings for something else. The
rain storms prevent a lot of children from going to school,
which is obviously not good for their test results, but with
a rain coat, that problem is also solved! A wonderful
The beauty of a country like Ghana is overshadowed by the
enormous litter problem.
A country with such a varied landscape, from coastal areas
with beautiful beaches to sloping hills, lakes, ancient rain
forests, large rivers and dry savanna’s. But everywhere you
look, the first thing you notice, is garbage, giving the
country the appearance of a giant landfill. Due to lack of
good waste management, trash just remains in the streets and
what does get collected, ends up being dumped outside the
city limits in the countryside.
Due to the method in which Tuma Viela works,
anyone who wishes to have an item produced by the workshop,
will need to help collect the sachets scattered around
everywhere. Those sachets, causing such a major litter
problem, are now being recycled.
gentlemen who previously littered the streets with the
sachets, now collect them.
Less pollution, cleaner streets, less litter.
One of the great side effects of collecting the sachets is
that many have now switched to saving them instead of
dumping them. And when they have the right amount, they are
delivered to the workshop in exchange for a pretty, useful
item. The ‘worthless’ trash, all of a sudden appears to be
something rather worthy! The open sewers don’t block up as
often anymore, leaving less standing water (an ideal
breeding ground for the malaria mosquito) and also other
diseases which are the result of poor hygiene, stand less of
a chance. Health is benefitting too!
Improving environmental awareness
The trash everywhere is a actually a familiar picture in the
cities and villages. People complain about the blocked
sewers and voice their concerns with the council that
nothing is being done about it, but nobody has ever stopped
to think WHY these sewers are blocked, what the cause is and
what WE can do to prevent it. A common excuse for throwing
the trash in the streets is that otherwise the sanitation
department would be out of work...
Since everyone who wants something from the workshop, needs
to go looking for the water sachets, they finally become
aware of how much trash is strewn around in the streets,
gutters and countryside. We actively involve them in the
cleaning up and condition the people to collect trash from
now on. We set and example of how recycling can produce
something nice and useful.
We receive positive feedback regularly from people who have
noticed the great impact this has had on the environment so
far. It makes people feel better. The media is starting to
show an interest and by the information they are spreading,
there is a growing awareness of how the people can
positively impact the litter problem by lending us a helping
Dealing with so many daily struggles and worries, the people
of Ghana think more short-term and hardly consider the
future. It has become such a habit to just dump everything
out in the streets that neither kids nor adults think about
the impact this has. People higher up ponder the issue and
try to think of ways to really clean up but they forget the
first step: that people themselves are the cause and that
they need to adjust their ‘discarding’ behavior...
Tuma Viela educates children and adults by being present at
a variety of events that draw big crowds.
And especially by showing just what we do! We are actively
picking up litter and educating them about the consequences
of trash. We tell the kids to come and hand in the sachets
and that it is better to hang on to the ones they drink at
home or buy on the street, so they can then exchange it for
something nice at the workshop.
Through education, people become aware of the negative
impact litter has and switch more and more to delivering it
to the Tuma Viela workshop.
We are looking for sponsors. With 720 euro, we
can pay one employee for a year. For the amount of 1200 euro, an
employee can teach environmental education in schools.
A better environment for Tamale..happy
faces...children who learn how to take care of Ghana, not
only now, but also in the future. A blossoming enterprise
where trash is turned into treasures by employees who are
proud of their work and who can now make ends meet...
Tuma Viela...it works!
It’s in the bag!