Azizi Life – Muhanga – Rwanda
Just in time for Mother’s Day.
I was able to jump on the opportunity to do an experience day with the local women’s cooperatives that GO sells products for in their shop. These products are a little more expensive than if I go to the huge market in town. But, they are also much higher in quality and craftsmanship. Plus, I know the money is going to directly support women producing the items.
I followed along with the activities the coop members’ experience everyday. I participated in their meeting in the morning, preparing food for lunch, working outside in the farm to clear a space for new crops, fetching water from the local well (a good 30 min walk) and cut and prepared the plants that are used for weaving the products they sell.
The coop I visited is called Kanguka Mutegarugori, which means Wake Up, Women! They joined together in 2007 to fight the poverty that was overcoming families in their community. Weaving is a way for these women to be more independent and better support their family. By contributing their own income to the household, they have more control of how the money is spent. Right now, they meet and work out of one of the member’s homes. They hope to some day have a workshop where they can weave together rain or shine. ‘
They are very patient women who taught two other volunteers and me how to weave. My fingers actually had blisters after making one small circle for a necklace pendant. It was supposed to be earrings, but the one took me two hours to make. The women in the cooperative are much better at this than I am, even still, the little basket ornaments they sell through the GO shop are produced at a rate of one per day on average. So much work for such a little thing! I made sure to buy a bunch of them for souvenirs.
The women were wonderful. The experience was wonderful. I am so lucky I got to be a part of it. And, it was on International Women’s Day! What a better way to celebrate than with some strong, talented women that support their families with such hard work.