When we went to meet with the artisans, we gathered at a house where the y meet to do their work. Of course there was a crowd gathered (there is always a crowd gathered!), and Women sat on a bench all along the front of the house piecing sleeves on sweaters. The group in Gisanga borrows a weaving machine from another community and weaves all of the pieces o f the sweaters, then the pieces are attached by hand.
We all crowded into the front room of the house to hear about this particular women's association from community leaders. At the end of the speeches and weaving demonstrations, Troy and I were given a sweate, hat and washcloth from a young mother. I was told later that this gift was equivalent to a couple of weeks wages.
Out front of the artisans house.
We wanted to buy some of the goods that they had used in demonstration, and asked Christine if there would be a more private moment to conduct business. She told us that there are no private moments in Rwanda : )! Of course it is nothing to us to buy a basket for $2, or $5, and in fact we wanted to pay more for them, but as soon as the dollars came out of our pockets, there was a tangible tension in the room. It changed the dynamics of the whole situation in an instant. I could see that paying a huge sum for a basket would not benefit anyone, and would only cause trouble. It was one small reminder of how complicated things can get with money. I saw on this trip like I have never seen before how money alone cannot address a problem. Money is still sorely needed, and is often short, but alone it falls very short. It is fellowship, consistent presence and hands- on help that is SO invaluable.
The Rwandan and ex-pats that work for FFH are so committed to helping their communities in this way, and it is inspiring. I want to look for more opportunities to do this at home. Writing a check is important, but so is mentorship and consistent relationship and leadership.
Sara and a very generous artisan from Azizi Life.
Kirby and his new Rwandan handmade skull cap...not another one
Sara with Christine and Tom, the FH Azizi life coordinators.