Cynthia Joubert (63) is the founder of the sewing centre in Friemersheim, a building that is now also a popular tourist spot called the Shweswhe Stop. Cynthia learned how to sew while working in a factory in Cape Town. She and her two colleagues also play an important role in doing the sewing work and clothing alterations needed by members of their community.
“My parents were also Friemersheimers. They also come from here. We’re all family in Friemersheim. I was a young girl when I went to Cape Town and worked there. I also got married there, but to someone who was also from Friemersheim. I worked there for about 12 years in a factory, that’s where the sewing bug bit me. It was a clothing factory, Meritex in Parow. Then we decided we didn’t want to live in the Cape anymore, the Cape is too deurmekaar, and we came back. And at that time here wasn’t any work for women. The women who are here in Friemersheim do house work in Great Brak, Mossel Bay – at the white people’s homes, cleaning houses.
“I had a few women at my house, and we started with just pieces of fabric, just to make the time pass. And later, it grew. Then we got a room at our local clinic and we got donations from PetroSA, and from Eskom. Nelma came across our path and she started with the shweshwe products. She didn’t think it would grow so much – she’s the one who puts everything on the internet. But the work is getting more. A lot of people are buying the products, even in Knysna. She goes around to all the shops, everything we can’t do. We don’t have transport to drive around. She does all that for us, and it keeps us going.