Wonder Workshop, where art meets innovation

By Laura Alioravainen and Marjut Valtanen

Team Leaders, Art in Tanzania (Originally published on Sep 9, 2013)

Artists work on a wood at Wonder Workshop of Oysterbay in Dar es Salaam

An artist works on a wood at Wonder Workshop of Oysterbay in Dar es Salaam

When you pass between tens of little stores and boutiques selling imported shoes and clothes from Asia and all the pirated DVDs salesmen,  you can find a true gem in the streets of Dar Es Salaam. Behind the red gates exists Wonder Workshop. This craft shop was founded in 2005 by Paul Joynson-Hicks and its business model is pure genius.

Starting with three employees Wonder Workshop was making art out of scrap metal. Presently the organization employs 42 Tanzanian nationals with different disabilities. The brilliancy of Wonder workshop lies in the ability to see resources and potential where others so often overlook. Here used products and trash, typically scrap metal, wood, glass and plastic, from the streets get a new life in beautiful forms of greeting cards, jewellery, art, toys and in so many ways that our imagination can’t reach. The employees of Wonder Workshop say their inspiration comes from the nature and beauty of Africa and its wildlife.

Paper making at Wonder workshop

Paper making at Wonder workshop

Every year there is about hundred new applicants to work in Wonder workshop and get off the streets. A valuable asset to the workshop’s development and expansion is collaboration with volunteers and interns from all over the world. Volunteers can use their education and knowhow to help develop new products. Volunteering here is also a great opportunity to work with recycled material, truly test innovativeness with limited resources and learn the unique wonders of this workshop.

For more information, visit the workshop’s website: www.wonderworkshop.co.tz/

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