Sock monkey happiness

Ethical trading & business, In the field, Oxfam Shop, Success stories article written on the 22 May 2014

Photo: Max Bastard

Sock monkeys — the newest addition to Oxfam Shop’s fair trade product range — had their Australian debut at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala in March, sharing centre stage with popular comedian Sammy J and his purple sidekick Randy.

The duo brought the sock monkeys back from South Africa, where they met some of the amazing women crafters who make the colourful creations for our partner Woza Moya —including Mpume Dlamini, from Ixopo (pictured above centre).

“When I started [making sock monkeys] I was not working, I was not getting [money], I was not even having a house,” Mpume said. “Now I can help my children by buying food and everything for them … [It] is playing an important role to me.”

Woza Moya is a non-governmental organisation providing care and support for people living with HIV in the Ufafa Valley, South Africa. Woza Moya are a small-scale, emerging producer group and while they are not currently Fair Trade certified, they are taking their first steps towards accreditation.

Operation Sock Monkey was a project originally developed in Canada to help bring joy and laughter to children affected by trauma all around the world. Due to the sock monkeys ever-growing popularity and increasing demand, the project is now also helping Woza Moya’s artisans in South Africa create a sustainable future with an ongoing source of income.

A portion of Woza Moya’s proceeds also go towards supplementing the income of other artisans in the Ufafa Valley, and the group also supplies sock monkeys to the “Clowns Without Borders South Africa” program which works with local children affected by trauma.

Earlier this year, Sammy J and Randy visited South Africa to see first-hand how your donations are helping to make a difference to families in the Ufafa Valley. While they were there, they caught some of their hijinks on video. Watch the sock monkey sketch or views all their adventures on our Youtube channel.