Press Releases

Keene Elm City Rotary and Keene Rotary Club give grants to support Rwandan women

 (Dec 12, 2023) Rwanda-One4One, a Westmoreland-based non-profit benefitting Rwandan families, recently received grants from two local Rotary Clubs.

Keene Elm City Rotary and Keene Rotary Club donated a combined $2,000 which was then matched by their Rotary District. The grants specifically funded the training of a group of Rwandan women on various techniques to dye scarves and other textile products using dyes the women make from indigenous plants gathered locally. Most Rwandan women over 35 have no vocational skills — an indirect result of the Genocide Against the Tutsi. As a result, their employment opportunities are extremely limited and most live in poverty.

Rwanda-One4One founder and Westmoreland resident, Nancy Zeller states “I can’t comprehend the suffering these women went through during the Genocide Against the Tutsi. Our work there has given them hope for their future and their children’s future by providing them with a means to earn a living. The Rotary grants have helped us establish a small boutique in Rwanda where scarves dyed by the local women can be sold to tourists directly. This is a monumental step towards making this work self-sustaining, and we are deeply appreciative of the support Rotary has given our small, but mighty organization.”

Keene Elm City Rotary Club and Keene Rotary Club are part of Rotary International, a humanitarian organization that connects people of action through a global network of clubs and members.

Rwanda-One4One works with Rwandan families to help them create a path to a better life through income opportunities and education. For more information, visit

Rwanda-one4one Succeeds in GlobalGiving’s Accelerator, Becomes Recognized Partner of GlobalGiving

(October 9, 2018) Rwanda-one4one announced today that they have graduated from the GlobalGiving Accelerator program, gaining entry into the GlobalGiving marketplace and becoming a recognized partner of GlobalGiving. As part of the Accelerator, Rwanda-one4one successfully graduated in 1st place from 689 competing projects, raising support for their project, “Dyeing For Peace in Rwanda.”

“We’re thrilled to have Rwanda-one4one as part of our community. Rwanda-one4one has met our rigorous vetting standards for trust and community support, and we’re committed to providing tools, training, and support as they learn, grow and become more effective,” said Mari Kuraishi, President and Co-Founder of GlobalGiving. “GlobalGiving donors value the opportunity to support nonprofits like Rwanda-one4one, knowing that they’ll get regular updates about how their donations are put to work.”

Notes from Rwanda

2023 Notes From Rwanda


Rwanda-one4one has grown from supporting 4 school children to 20, plus 2 high school
graduates. These are two of the children in the education program:

Brian is just beginning school. Kids start attending school at 3 years old. He is a bright
boy; his parents are so grateful for the support we are providing and do their part to
encourage him to study hard. His older sister, Guilllene is doing very well as a high
school student in our education program.

Benoni is in high school, doing very well in his studies with a focus on Tourism. He has
applied himself, achieved excellent grades and has mastered English as his second
language. When he graduates, he would like to be a tour guide. Rwanda is home to the
Mountain Gorillas of the Volcanoes National Park, the Big 5 of Akagera National Park,
and the rain forest of Nyungwe Forest National Park. Benoni will do very well in this

Each student in our education program is a blessing and they are working so hard to
achieve their best results. So much credit goes to the parents who know how important
an education means to their future. 

There are so many stories, yet through it all we have brought hope and strength to their
challenges and triumphs.


After a year of thoughtful planning and preparation Umva Boutique is now open in
Musanze, Rwanda! In April our founder, Nancy Zeller and board member Jennifer
Paone traveled to Rwanda to set up the new shop, provide additional dye training,
onsite support, and meet with our new Rwandan board members.

Umva Boutique is located within a vibrant arts center, Musanze Arts Studio Hub
Adventure, and includes a shop where customers can see the Umva line of scarves,
wraps, dyed yardage and more. Adjacent to the shop is a workspace where the women
dye, providing new inventory as needed. We also have a seamstress and sewing
machine in the shop that will allow customers to buy fabric and have it tailored into one-
of-a-kind items. 

Watching the women get into the swing of their new workspace has been inspiring. We
worked through heavy rainstorms and warm sunny days, making a new way for the
future. The location is perfect. Our dyers feel at home among other Rwandan artists,
each working on their own endeavors, yet in each other’s company.

The location also has a small office space for Rwanda-one4one as we have made our
application to the Rwanda Governing Board to be a national NGO. We are confident we
will have final approval in 2024 which will allow us to transact business according to
Rwanda governance.

Nancy returned to Rwanda in September where she worked on further training with our
Umva dyers and shop manager. They held multiple team meetings to discuss
challenges, new dye techniques, business practices, progress, and where they hope to
be in the next 12 months as the boutique continues to grow. Our organization is
applying for a grant through Rotary International and Nancy and Grace, one of our
board members, conducted community assessment surveys with women in the town of
Musanze, gathering insight and perspective on what concerns and challenges they face
in their day to day lives. This information will be an integral part of the grant application
focusing on long term expansion of the Umva project including adding qualified staff to
help us reach new retail outlets, more raw materials so we can offer more product, and
ongoing dye training, ultimately enabling us to hire more women who will be able to
earn income from their craft.

2022 Notes From Rwanda


In 2022, Rwanda eased the Covid restrictions for her citizens and travelers. Food markets opened up, buses and motos were moving, and the country began to transition away from the pandemic.


We have added two new children this year for a total of 21 students in the program. We are delighted to see the first 2 students in our education program graduate from high school. Ephraim and Sandrine joined our education program in 2015, each persevered to overcome daily hardships because they wanted to excel.

They both graduated in the top 10% of their class and are now waiting for results to of their applications to the University of Rwanda.

Each student in our education program is a blessing, and they are working so hard to achieve their best results.

So much credit goes to the parents who know how important an education means to their future.

Not all children are destined to be scholars, yet it is vital we find ways to bring out the best in each student whether it is a focus on the sciences, mathematics, languages or art.

Manasseh has always wanted to be an artist. He struggled through high school, but he always found his peace in the arts. We are funding art lessons for him so that he can find his way with what he loves.

We have been able to provide funding for several additional children, including two young brothers. Here is a thank you note we received from their adult sister.

“I have 5 siblings. 3 are in secondary school and 2 others are in primary school. So I have to pay school fees for all them and school materials. And nowadays schools are somehow expensive. I will use the donation to pay school fees for 2 of my siblings, in 5th grade primary school. Their names are Ben and Moses.

I don’t know what I’m most grateful for. What you did was pretty awesome. You may never realize how helpful you have been. I needed help, and you were there at exactly the right time in the right way. Thank you so much.”


The Umva dyers are back in full swing, creating gorgeous botanical prints on wool, silk and cotton scarves and wraps. Since the Umva project was launched in 2015, we have had two women dyeing fabric in the yard of their home, having to haul water to do so. During this trip, our founder trained three more women to join the effort – a major step forward! Another goal of the trip was to identify a new workspace for all the dyers in Musanze to work together, and to do so more efficiently. We are thrilled to have secured space at Musanze Arts Studio Hub Adventure where Rwandan artists and craftspeople create, display, and sell their work. Here the women will be able to perform the dye work more easily and safely and visitors can visit with the dyers and purchase finished pieces. Establishing this new space will create visibility for the Umva Project within the local community and further afield in Rwanda. Preparations of the space are beginning in March 2023.


Desange, a 42-year-old mother of one whose son is in our education program, was in critical need of surgery to remove a tumor from one of her fallopian tubes. Thanks to many generous donors, she underwent surgery July 26 to remove the tumor. She has fully recovered, and she and her husband Martin are so grateful. They worked hard to save some money, but it would have been another year or more until they could have paid the full cost of the surgery without the additional support.

Benoni, still in high school, the ball hit him in the face a soccer in early 2022 and broke his front tooth. He has been very self-conscious, trying to keep his lips closed for smiles.

Part of what Rwanda-one4one focuses on is medical concerns and we plan to get Benoni’s teeth repaired. He is a handsome young man, and he needs his health and pride back.

2021 Notes From Rwanda

The Covid pandemic has continued to cause great challenges worldwide. Rwanda continues to struggle, alongside so many other countries, to survive amidst the restrictions that hamper daily life. Our dyers are still unable to dye as we are unable to get fabric to them; our taxi entrepreneur and law clerk are unable to work due to lockdowns. Despite the challenges, Rwanda-one4one is helping to keep the families stable, the children continuing with their school studies, and to provide aid in medical emergencies.


There are a couple of bright spots in the gloom. All the children whose education we fund are back in school. Unfortunately, all schools raised fees due to Covid issues including cleaning and safety supplies. We receive the children’s report cards and many are receiving above average grades. We have added three new children to the school program this fall. With education for school age children being core to our mission, we made the decision to continue funding beyond our budgeted levels. Thank you so much for recognizing the value of a good education for Rwandan youth!


The 2021 annual October wool and fiber show in Rhinebeck, NY was a great success for Umva scarves and wraps. Although the show was scaled back due to Covid restrictions, our team put together a beautiful booth with our remaining inventory and did far better than we had anticipated. A bright spot indeed! We have been able to sustain the ladies’ incomes through sales despite the setbacks this year.

Sadly, on December 23, one of the children in our education program passed away in an accidental drowning in Lake Kivu. Freddy was a very serious student preparing for the national exams to enter secondary school; he wanted to be a doctor one day. He was only 12 years old, taking an afternoon break playing with friends at the lake. He will be forever missed by his family and all of us who held him dear.

It is often said in Rwanda: “It is hard but not impossible,” and that is how we must continue our work in this unprecedented time. If they can endure their hardships, we can bring solutions and hope whenever possible.

2020 Notes From Rwanda


2020 was a particularly challenging year for everyone around the world. As elsewhere, the pandemic has impacted our Rwandan families deeply, yet we are working hard to help sustain them through to the other side. Rwanda-one4one is helping to keep the families stable, the children continuing with their school studies, and to provide aid in medical emergencies.


We are delighted to report that eleven of the seventeen children whose education we support are back to school full time. We provided education for all of the children in home-based tutoring pods through September. In October, the government started a phased reopening of schools based on age. In October, the kids had a small break and got their uniforms, supplies, and books in order. Children seven and older were welcomed back to school November 2. They are so happy to be back to full studies and with their classmates again. The entire population in Rwanda is required to wear masks, including school children. The six youngest are still studying in the home tutoring pods until their schools reopen in 2021.


Due to the pandemic, customer demand for taxi service is not back to full capacity, yet our entrepreneur is able to transport citizens throughout Rwanda, other than areas restricted by transport protocols.
As for Umva, thankfully, we had enough wraps and scarves in inventory before the pandemic hit to sustain the ladies’ income through this slow period. Sales are down in the shops of our retail partners due to closures and limited hours. Our 2020 annual October show in New York was canceled – a major setback for sales. It is our greatest hope that the ladies can begin dyeing again in mid-year 2021 so we can return to our former level of production and sales. In the meantime, these gorgeous products are available in our online shop.

Pandemic Food Aid

For the past nine months, through your generous support, we have been able to provide a modest monthly food allowance for ten families, plus medical support for several minor illnesses. Our families have suffered psychological stress due to isolation and the fear of contracting Covid-19. This anxiety has caused some stomach and heart issues, all thankfully treatable. We are extending this aid into 2021 as needed.


Your ongoing support of our efforts to help Rwandans rebuild their lives and their society is profoundly appreciated.

Notes from Past years


Dyeing to Help Rwanda     Wild Fibers Magazine

One Woman’s Mission        ELF Magazine

Monadnock Profile – Nancy Zeller     Keene Sentinel