Gin-making, tasting and pizza when you have your function at Distiller’s Union
Oasis is far more than a recycling depot
Drop off recycling, donate used goods + shop at Oasis
The Oasis Association is one of Cape Town’s sustainability success stories – it’s where Capetonians can conveniently drop off recycling or used goods, and those items provide a living for 600 intellectually challenged beneficiaries. It’s also worth knowing that thrifting there might deliver incredible finds – just like it did for the treasure hunter who found a J.R.R. Tolkien first edition.
YOU’LL BE SURPRISED AT ITS HISTORY
Oasis’ mission is inspiring: Oasis Special School was founded in 1952 to provide special-needs schooling and resources to students with intellectual disabilities. They were excluded from mainstream schools at the time. However, once the students finished schooling at Oasis, there were precious few employment opportunities for them. So the Oasis Protective Workshop was launched.
Oasis and some of its students in the founding years. Image: Olive Runciman
Today Oasis sells about 1000 goods per day, including what it bakes. That allows Oasis to equip over 400 young adults through skills development training at the Protective Workshops in Claremont and Delft. And amazingly, all the work at these locations, from baking through to paper sorting, is done by these youth members.
There is also a wide jewellery selection at the Oasis shop. Image: Simone Strydom
BE PART OF SOMETHING BIGGER
Oasis is part of a much bigger ecosystem, says executive director Gail Bester. “It’s not just that an intellectually challenged adult comes here or that a child goes to the daycare centres, but it means their parents or carers are also free to work.” Plus, some of the beneficiaries are the only breadwinners in the family and have real standing in the community as a result, she adds. “We want the public to understand that we want them to both come buy and donate,” says Gail.
Being part of the Oasis community is a game changer for many of these beneficiaries. Image: Simone Strydom
Oasis’ approach is holistic: Beneficiaries are transported to and from home, professional counselling and health care is provided, there is even a netball team connected with Western Province Sports, and every year Christmas parcels are given to each family.
You can find gems like these at the Oasis shop. Image: Oasis
There are daycare centres in Ravenswood and Delft, where 90 children and 30 adults with severe to profound intellectual disabilities are provided with music therapy and physiotherapy.
If you have any excess goods in working condition, consider donating them to Oasis. Image: Jessie Leverzencie
SUPPORT IT: DONATE GOODS OR GO THRIFTING
Oasis’ clothing shop is close to the front gate on Lee Road in Claremont. There you’ll find tops, pants, bags, jewellery and, when we were there, a wedding dress.
There are loads of hidden gems in the clothing store that are super affordable. Image: Simone Strydom
Oasis thrives on donations. Gail says people would drop off recycling containing perfectly usable and sometimes even pristine items, and it seemed a sin to throw them out, and so the Oasis Bric a Brac shop was born. Now there are four second-hand shops.
You’ll find furniture – a comfy TV chair for R320, for instance, and a hot-orange filing cabinet for R500; and appliances – a Miele coffee machine for R4 000 (they’re usually in the R30 000 range).
It’s worth going on a regular basis to see what you can pick up. Image: Simone Strydom
BUY TREASURES, FROM CRYSTAL VASES TO FRAMED ART
Everything that gets donated is put through a thorough cleaning and grading process and then displayed for sale: Vintage spoon sets, crystal vases, framed paintings, vintage toys and other treasures – perhaps even a pair of vintage leather lace-ups. The income from this and the recycling arm are the lifeblood of the organisation, which helps it do the work it does.
You will find loads of vintage coffee and tea sets at Oasis. Image: Simone Strydom
SHOP FOR A BOOK OR ART
The book section is adjacent to the furniture area. You step into a bright and airy room filled with shelves of books on subjects, ranging from children's literature and nursery rhymes to recipe books by Jamie Oliver and fiction for adults. All the books are categorised and alphabetised.
Browse for a new book at Oasis’ bookstore; you never know what you’ll find. Image: Jessie Leverzencie
Gail says it was here that the Tolkien first edition was found, as well as a leather-bound, religious notebook owned by Irma Stern, identifiable by the tiny watercolour she had drawn in it. Loads of art is also donated, and it’s worth popping in regularly to see what has come in.
A wall lined by beautiful artwork catches the eye at Oasis. Image: Jessie Leverzencie
TEA AT THE TEA GARDEN SURROUNDED BY PLANTS
The Tea Garden is at the centre of the Oasis property. It’s a lovely oval area, with small tables and chairs under umbrellas, surrounded by pretty plant borders. Taste the legendary shortbread – the most popular seller – or eat a sandwich or a decadent little cupcake covered with Hundreds and Thousands sprinkles.
Isn’t this the perfect place to drink a cup of tea and nom a cupcake? Image: Simone Strydom
Oasis also has a vintage trinkets store adjacent to the Tea Garden. There you’ll find treasures like vintage velvet-lined boxes, rings, bangles and necklaces.
Everything, including these scrumptious little cupcakes, is baked on-site. Image: Simone Strydom
TAKE HOME TREATS FROM THE BAKERY
Walking around Oasis, you can't help but notice the delightful fragrance of baked goods. The bakery is integral to Oasis’ service; all the goods are made by the beneficiaries. Baking starts at 7am; they make shortbread, muffins, bread – the cheapest in the area at R11 a loaf – Swiss Rolls and other goods. You can buy/order straight from the bakery by visiting it or go to the Oasis grocery shop, where you’ll also find various canned goods, sandwiches, fresh vegetables and more.
Shop around for everything from pasta to packets of chips at Oasis’ grocery shop. Image: Jessie Leverzencie
DROP OFF YOUR RECYCLING
The recycling section of Oasis is also run by Oasis beneficiaries. They do everything from sorting the recycling to loading the goods into the trucks. Oasis takes paper, glass and wooden pallets. “White paper is our gold,” says the management team, as it brings in the largest return. So offices and households, if you use a lot of white paper, Oasis would love to recycle it for you. Please note, though, no plastic: It’s labour intensive and brings in very little return.
Glass bottles of all shapes, sizes and colours ready to be recycled and made into something new. Image: Jessie Leverzencie
WHEN + WHERE TO GO
Find it: Claremont Oasis Books and Bric-a-Brac Shop
Where: Cnr Lee Road and Imam Haron Road
Opening hours: Monday - Friday 8.30am - 3.30pm, Saturday 9am - 1pm
Find it: Fish Hoek Oasis Books and Bric-a-Brac Shop
Where: Shop no 4, Somerset House, 6 Recreation Road
Opening hours: Tuesday - Friday 9am - 3pm, Saturday 9am - 1pm (closed Monday)
Saturday 9 am – 1pm
Contact Oasis on: 021 671 2698, oasis.org.za
FIND MORE THINGS TO DO IN CAPE TOWN
Far more than just a recycling depot at Oasis, also for thrifting.
Make more budget-friendly buys at these thrift stores.
One stop shop for all your thrifting needs at Thrift Fest.
This female-run company makes stationery that sprouts into flowers and herbs.