Meet Jill and Lynette
Jill was born and raised in Harare, Zimbabwe (formerly known as Salisbury, Rhodesia). She was educated under the British school system and completed A level majoring in English and Afrikaans. After graduating from Oriel Girls’ High School, Jill continued her education in Cape Town South Africa and completed a Business Administration Certification and then attained a Cordon Bleu Certification at Silwood Kitchens.
Jill was involved in catering for several years and prior to leaving South Africa, she and her husband helped operate a 3 star country hotel for the DeBeer Diamond executives. Gavin and Jill always wanted to travel and when given the opportunity they set off on a one year adventure to explore Europe.
The adventure took many turns, and they ended up on Hilton Head Island, SC with the Van der Meer Tennis University where they both were involved in the tennis coaching business. That temporary stop 33 years ago turned into home and a life in the tennis industry.
As the years continued to pass they returned to Zimbabwe several times with their daughters to visit family and expose them to their roots. They would visit their uncle’s farm in Kwe Kwe, camp overnight in game parks and spend time visiting the local curios and growing their collection of local art. The constant decline in a once self-sufficient country was discouraging, but it was still home to Jill’s family. Two years ago Jill’s parent’s health declined and it was on one of her trips home that she felt an overwhelming need to do something, no matter how small, to help the Zimbabwe people.
On Jill’s next trip home returned to Newlands where she had first seen an amazing metal sculpture of a tennis player that she really wanted to take back to the States with her. The artist, Sadda Suraji introduced her to Gift Rusere who had mastered the process of international shipping. As Jill chatted to Gift she knew that this was a fork in the road. Jill wanted to know more about Gift’s business, so she sat down with him listening as he told his story. She felt a connection to this talented sculptor who was determined to succeed, and had no boundaries. Jill was fascinated that when Gift was accepted to study art in Germany, he immediately started German lessons so that he could maximize the experience. As she continued to connect to the other artists she discovered that their story went far beyond the surface and that their stories needed to be shared. Jill also realized that she could not do this alone and that she needed somebody she could trust to handle the purchasing in Zimbabwe – meet Lyn Coventry – Jill’s cousin. Zimbabwe Artisan Alliance was born at the end of 2014 and is starting to take shape.
Jill’s goal is to grow this business so that those Zimbabwe Artisans she is purchasing from will earn enough each month to feed their families. The sales of their products will in turn help the three chosen charities with their goals. People helping people ….. lend a hand!
I was born in Kadoma, Zimbabwe on the 27th May, 1958 and was brought up in a farming community. I have always been fond of country life. I currently reside in Harare, Zimbabwe where I teach swimming and have a small home industry baking business. Sadly the economy as it is in Zimbabwe, people live day to day, and have to take each day as it comes. My small baking business battles due to enormous power cuts - sometimes 14 hours a day - it makes it very hard to operate a business here.
Being brought up in Zimbabwe I have always admired our local artists and their amazing talents as I travel around visiting just a few of the many artists in and around Harare. Last year on one of Jill's trips to Zimbabwe, we were discussing this and the desperate need all Zimbabweans have just to make enough to get by, we decided we needed to do something to make a difference and help support these amazing Zimbabwe artists. Many of whom have no link to the world outside Zimbabwe, and no way of selling their work if not helped along just a little.
The artists are incredibly creative and they recycle metal, wood, soapstone, plastic, beads, fabrics - you name it - they create sought after pieces of art. When you take it one step further from where they sell their work, and you go to see where they create their work - it just makes what they do even more incredible. Their simple work places are sometimes out in the open under the trees, or on the dirt in a rural area. It is awe inspiring that they produce such special African art.
Buying this art from us helps our plight to help these people who struggle to support their families in the cronic economic environment. Please help us make a difference by purchasing a piece of their work from our website. This way we can purchase from them more regularly, and really begin to make a difference.
One step at a time.