26 September 2012 by Julienne du Toit

Angels bless the Karoo

At an old railway siding called Vondeling in the dusty Karoo, you’ll find a dozen or so angel-makers, whose angels have brought great blessings and orders from overseas to this tiny settlement.

A Vondeling angel on a Karoo road. Photo Chris Marais

There are angels hanging from the beams, turning in shafts of sunlight. They are lying on tables. They are draped on chairs. They are piled in boxes. Their beaded wings glint in packets being readied for shipment to Europe.

Vondeling is a tiny little railway siding. Photo Chris Marais

And around a horse-shaped arrangement of tables in an old prefab building that used to be a congregational church, sit the angel-makers.

Vondeling is hardly even marked on a map. It’s about 40km from Willowmore, on the Klaarstroom road.

Angels have connected them with far-flung places and have been the blessing that is helping free the community from grinding poverty.

The few dozen families that live here mostly depended on social grants or part-time work on farms to survive until 2 real life ‘angels’ arrived unexpectedly in their lives in 2007. Their names were Gardi Oosthuizen and Hannelie Hazelmann, of Craft Partners.

Gardi and Hannelie offered to teach anyone interested how to make Christmas decorations – stars, snowflakes and angels. The project took root and succeeded beyond anyone’s dreams.

The project is called Vondeling Optel Craft. Optel means 'to pick up'.

Busy hands work on angels. Photo Chris Marais

Siena Klaassen explains: 'We first started with things that we picked up, old tins, bits of wood. And it started a bit like an optel kind, a picked-up child, a foundling.'

The little community of Vondeling (which literally means Foundling) now take orders from Norway, France and Switzerland, and specialises almost exclusively in angels.

Angels have connected them with far-flung places and have been the blessing that is helping free the community from grinding poverty.

As any of the angel-makers will tell you, the project has had a very positive effect on the community and is an enormous source of pride.

Angel-makers at work. Photo Chris Marais

Category: Responsible Tourism


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