Thumb Sized Travellers Cross the Globe

Fifteen years ago, the first Little Travellers set out from Hillcrest in KZN to travel the globe. Little Travellers are thumb-sized beaded figures made by two hundred talented crafters who live in KZN’s Valley of a Thousand Hills and surrounding areas.

Words and photographs by Andrea Abbott

Each delightful figure is the expression of its maker’s creativity.  You’ll meet for example, a mermaid; a rugby player; super heroes like Batman and Superman and, more poignantly, a nurse and doctor who symbolise the chief purpose of the Little Travellers: to create sustainable income for needy people impacted by HIV AIDS. “About 400,000 Little Travellers are sold globally every year,” says Paula Thomson, Manager of Woza Moya, the NGO that’s behind the project.

That army of tiny characters are the means by which families that once struggled to make ends meet  are now feeding and clothing themselves, and sending their children to school. Beyond that important primary function, the intrepid voyagers are also ambassadors of friendship, hope and travel.

Each is equipped with its own passport so that destinations can be logged to the Little Traveller Facebook page.  “They go everywhere,” says Paula. “They’ve landed in Russia, Canada, the USA, Europe, New Zealand and Australia, but Germany’s their favourite place to emigrate.” To mark the Little Travellers fifteenth birthday, Woza Moya –  the Zulu term for ‘Come Spirit of Change’ – has launched Traveller Socks that will make anyone want to put their best foot forward. Designed by Paula in conjunction with the crafters, the socks depict the little figures on their voyages.

Proudly South African, they’re made in Cape Town with “a sole-cial conscience” and to help people “get back on their feet.” To get your pair, and for details of the Traveller Socks competition that closes on 19 August, contact [email protected]

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