The Nordic Africa Institute

Toys to Kwanza Zul


In 1982 the representative of Swapo to Stockholm, Hadino Hishongwa, contacted the Swedish UN Association and asked for assistance to collect material for the refugee camps in Namibia, primarily concerning equipment for kindergartens. The UN Association started collaboration with a teacher Bo Svedlund and Stigtomta school outside Nyköping. Mr Svedlund became interested in doing it as part of the children's education.

Scanned newspaper article in Swedish

Newspaper article

It became a work of solidarity from child to child, not just a charity project. Teachers and students started looking for information on Namibia, apartheid and racism and it was decided that all the children should make something practical to send to Kwanza Zul. In sewing class at the school the tasks were divided between the age groups: 3 rd grade (age 9), boys and girls made practical and attractive bags at the same time as they learned how to operate a sewing machine. Grade 4 made skirts and shorts with the assistance of grades 5 and 6. They were working in an industrial mode, with a division of labour but assistance across the age groups. Grade 5 made dolls that took some time to put together well. It was difficult for them to part from their creations. Finally grade 6 made sheets. Boys and girls in the wood workshop made toys, puzzles, educational devices etc. This was all sent to Kwanza zul together with letters written by the children. The children got to meet student refugees from Namibia and concluded that through this way of working, they learned more about solidarity and about the situation for children in other parts of the world. Stigtomta school became news in Sweden and worked on inspiring more schools to carry out similar projects.