In the time I spent in Rwanda, I was mostly with "the ladies" as I call them. I'm sure that you have seen Fair Trade websites or you've seen the African Baskets sold at Earth Fare or Whole Foods. Most of these are made by women in "cooperatives". They come together a couple of times a week and make goods by hand. Each country has a trade or craft of their own and Rwanda is known for it's necklaces made out of calenders.
They cut the calenders into triangular pieces, roll them into a bead and dip them into some type of coating substance to create necklaces, bracelets and earrings
They also make clothing and baskets
This sign, which means blessing, was made from banana leaves
This lady was amazing!
a little bit of everything
soccer balls which the kids do play with
During the week, we visited 3 different cooperatives
These were the HIV Ladies - they all have HIV and come to the medical clinic to get their medicine
These women were a Gender Based Violence group. The lady on the left introduced herself to me and told me she had been raped at the age of 16 years old
These ladies were a mixture, many of them just poor.
I learned so much from these women and value the experience I had very much. I can't really put into words how much this experience changed me as a person. I loved meeting them so much and I want them to be successful so I have decided to bring back some of their necklaces to try to sell them.
Please let me know if you'd like to buy any of these necklaces or if you'd just like to donate money. These women use the money to feed their families, to buy health insurance which only costs $5 a year, one is saving up to go to college, etc.
I realize times are tough but I promise that by giving, you will receive ten fold. Many religions support that argument, and I believe that when the Bible talks about tithing, it does NOT just mean giving money to your church, but also to help those in need. That is more of a Catholic concept than Protestant but let's remember that these people are not giving up lost opportunities, they are doing the best they can with what they have. Some of the women walk 2 hours every day to come to the cooperative meeting place, work for several hours, then go back home to care for their family. Any help would be appreciated greatly by these women.
Please contact me if you'd like to give or if you'd like to buy a necklace.