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Ditoro - Craft School & Craft Centre Print E-mail
Harmonious Living Administrator   
Tuesday, 20 September 2005

What is Ditoro?
Ditoro is a registered Non Profit Organisation (002-005 NPO) that has been established to teach skills to unskilled and often uneducated South Africans. The primary aim is to help people to become self-sufficient.

Our Vision:

The Ditoro Challenge
The challenge for Ditoro is to realize the vision of establishing an all-embracing Craft School and Craft Centre. Ditoro is the initiative of Nina Venjakob who has been a leading promoter of art and craft in South Africa since 1988. A Board of Directors who contribute their time and skills to this project support her. They provide extensive experience in law, finance, education, advertising and marketing.

Why a craft school?
Latest statistics show that there are 4.6 million unemployed people in our county. Art and craft can be taught to all people, as no special talent or level of education is needed. Anyone who is motivated, willing and enthusiastic could learn to master a valuable skill at the Ditoro Craft School and Centre.

Why a craft centre?
A key element of the Ditoro strategy is for a vibrant Craft Centre to be opened adjacent to the Craft School. Through diligent and targeted marketing, this will become a firm fixture on the tourist itinerary and a first stop for overseas buyers seeking South African arts and artefacts. Currently, a significant amount of art and artefacts sold around the country are actually sourced in other African Countries, imported in bulk to sell in the relatively buoyant South African market. Many South African jobs and opportunities are lost, often by force, to people who are not South African. It is not only the students of the craft school but all artists in South Africa who therefore have difficulty in translating their arts and crafts into a sustainable income.

By opening a craft centre attached to the school, Ditoro intends to provide the focus, profile and accessibility that the South African craft industry currently lacks. It automatically also provides an outlet for the output of the newly trained student, and encourages the business skills that have been learned. It is a certainty that once the school has trained sufficient students, the large orders demanded by the export market can be satisfied. Mass production is not a feature of the craft industry in South Africa today and many opportunities are missed as a result.

Nina Venjakob
Nina grew up on a coal mine and walked the five miles to school with other barefooted children of all races. As a young child she showed an entrepreneurial spirit and a need to help her fellow man. She manipulated her Mother to teach a friend's mom baking to earn an income, the ironing lady was encouraged to iron and take in laundry from the miners to earn a living, and Nina herself earned pocket money by selling anything and everything, door to door.

As a young adult Nina was involved in starting a transport broking business, using empty back loads to save companies money. Then came a restaurant that served good meals at affordable prices. She worked in the exhibition industry running Food and Drink Fairs for a major Newspaper Group (The Star, The Argus and The Daily News) in the country nationwide. After that she started an exhibition hiring business.

Marriage took Nina to Venezuela and widowhood returned her to South Africa in 1987 when she met some talented metal workers and discovered that they could not sell their own products. "It is impossible to make something yourself and then have the courage to convince a stranger that it is brilliant and they must purchase it!" She took to offering their work to companies and selling on their behalf. Soon there were so many different crafters and products that she started exhibiting for them in a garage and eventually hired a small shop. Today, the Ditoro artists have a permanent display in the IDC foyer in Sandton and their work is marketed all over the world.

At present Nina works with The Twilight Shelter in Hillbrow, the Ditoro Sewing Schools in Parkmore, Ivory Park and Alexandra, and Nkosi's Haven in Hillbrow. In addition she looks for work for over 800 artists and indirectly creates a few hundred jobs per year. She promotes craftwork to corporate companies and is raising funds to build The Ditoro Craft School and Centre.
The name, Ditoro, means "Dreams" in many of our South African languages. Nina feels strongly that everyone has the right to dream, and to turn that dream into reality.

Ditoro is poised to change the lives of many people. We cannot do it alone. With your help we can make this country a better place. Sponsorship is needed for any and all of the following. Let us know how you can help : call Nina (011) 673 6592 or 083 583 5383 or email her This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

  • A building to host the school and craft centre.

  • Space in Corporate foyers for art exhibitions.

  • Space for craft fairs and exhibitions for a few days at a time until the school is established.

  • Everything that is needed to teach - tools, equipment and materials (sewing machines, welding machines, kilns, furnaces, potters wheels, saws, drills, workbenches, seats and desks, clay, fabrics, wood .

  • Donations to pay staff helping with all the background work until the school is up and running.

  • Sponsorship of teachers' salaries until the revenue flow from the Centre is self sustaining.

  • Bursaries for students who cannot afford the fees.
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