As SOMEONE who was born and bred in Durban, Kanchana Moodliar is fiercely proud of her hometown. "Durban can compete with any world-class city out there," she says. "It is such an amazing place. Recently it has become even more exciting because COP 17 is happening here with celebrities and ministers descending on us. Our beach front is looking particularly great at the moment." Moodliar advises people who travel to Durban to try the array of amazing bars and restaurants in the city. "Restaurants like the Oyster Box Lighthouse Bar in Umhlanga is a mustsee place as is the Jewel of India," she says, before adding with a chuckle. "Actually the best place to eat is at home with an Indian family so make sure you score yourself an invite!"
Moodliar is truly part of the fabric of KwaZulu-Natal. The driving force behind corporate apparel & accessories company, Fashion Channel, she recently won the Inyathelo Award For Youth in Philantrophy because of her Saris for Good Karma project in Durban. "It was a big surprise given the illustrious group of people that I was up against," Moodliar says. "It was a stunning event that just highlighted how many good people there are in South Africa." The Saris for Good Karma project teaches underprivileged women, in particular from previously disadvantaged communities, skills to help them enter the job market. "These are people who have not had opportunities to work ever in their life or have worked in the serving industry but have been fired," Moodliar explains. "We equip people with the skills to sew a garment from start to finish. We did a call to action to all Indian women in South Africa to donate their saris to the project. In that way, the most expensive thing when it comes to any garment — the material — was taken care of."
The response from Durbanites was phenomenal. "All the saris started pouring in and now we have a warehouse full of the stuff," Moodliar says. "It was given to the women to create whatever they want to create, whether it's bags, pillowcases or caps. We teach them how to do stitches and other simple things. The great part is that we get them to go out and get jobs and start their own business. They can do alternations and other tasks. Woman are given a start-up pack which includes a sewing machine so they can go out there and work and start a design company." The project has been so well received that Moodliar is opening a new centre in Phoenix this year. She is also launching the second part of the Saris For Good Karma project that will see the items made by the women being sold. "There has already been interest in buying some of the items," says Moodliar. "It's amazing to see these woman blossom because selfemployment is what is going to make our country better, especially in these tough financial times." www.sarisforgoodkarma.org SA EXPRESS ROUTES DURBAN INDWE JANUARY 2012 63