Notes from Rwanda, Past Years…
In 2019, with profound thanks to our generous donors, we funded 16 children’s school fees, uniforms and books. We receive each child’s grade reports throughout the school year and all the children are getting good marks, attending school regularly and very happy to be getting an education which their families would be otherwise unable to afford.
The Umva project continues to bring income for our Rwandan women dyers. Sales from Umva products are increasing by 30% each year. We are adding new retail partners in East Africa and the United States, opening more income earning potential for the dyers. As the sales volume increases, we can add new women to the dyeing program, providing them a means to earn real income and lifting more families from poverty.
The taxi project is stable and improving one family’s lives and bringing new opportunity to the community. The owner has been able to earn income, pay the bills and keep some money saved for any repairs to the vehicle. In addition, the family plans to build their own home in 2020, as the owner was able to buy a small piece of land with some savings from the taxi earnings, a modest loan and a bit of help from one of our generous donors. As a result, others will be hired to help with the house construction and earn wages. Helping one family earn a living in turn brings opportunities to other families. This is why entrepreneurship is one of our key focus areas.
In the fall of 2019 we were able to fund a rainwater collection system for an 80 year old woman in the Northeastern Province of Rwanda. She lives alone and the nearest well, nearly an hour’s walk round trip, was too far for her to carry water and she had no income with which to pay someone to carry it for her. Now she has water to drink, wash, and tend her vegetable garden which she relies upon for food.
We continue to partner with GlobalGiving, bringing recognition and global support to our Dyeing for Peace in Rwanda mission. We are proud to announce that we have just earned the Platinum Seal of Recognition with GuideStar! Rwanda-one4one remains committed to working with our Rwandan families, helping them develop real opportunities and hope for a more self reliant future.
2018 was a pivotal year for Rwanda-one4one and our Rwandan families. Through the generosity of our donors we were able to fund school fees for 11 children attending schools in Rwanda, grades K-12. In 2015, we began with 4 children in the school program and each year we have been able to send more children to school. Education remains the most effective way to lift a community from poverty. We project that in 2019 we will be funding 16 children’s school fees, uniforms and book costs. The Taxi project made a great stride in 2018. Working with the taxi business owner we traded the older model taxi and combined that sale with additional raised funds and purchased a newer model sedan with less miles. We made it compliant for Rwanda’s business laws and the taxi is driving customers across Rwanda. This year we created a new website for Rwanda-one4one full of facts, news and stories about the work we do. The Umva natural dye project is creating more beautiful textiles and yardage than ever before. In 2015, Umva sold 20 scarves and in 2018 we sold more just over 200 scarves. We have 3 retail partners and are always looking for more shops to carry Umva textiles. In September, Rwanda-one4one was accepted by GlobalGiving.org to compete in the Accelerator program. We took 1st place for most funds raised out of 689 competing projects and in October we became permanent partners with GlobalGiving. Here is the link to our project:
We have also earned Gold level rating with GuideStar and both achievements make all of us at Rwanda-one4one proud. 2019 promises to bring more success for our Rwandan families though education and entrepreneurial opportunities.
In 2017, Rwanda-one4one met the financial goal to include, but not limited to, providing ongoing support for annual school fees for children in the families, funding an emergency medical fund, shipping of fabrics to and from Rwanda for the Umva project, and the purchase of a used 4 door-sedan to be used for a taxi business by one family member. Rwanda-one4one focuses on entrepreneurship opportunities to help the family members who cannot find employment. In May 2017, Umva took part in Kigali Fashion Week with Rwandan fashion designer, Josette Umurerwa, Kigali, Rwanda to showcase the collaboration of natural dyeing and forward fashion design.
We couldn’t be prouder of how Umva is growing in the natural dye textile trade. We support the families as a safety net against the struggles of poverty they face every day. The kindness and care donors have offered has made an enormous impact on the lives of these families. Please consider giving a tax-deductible donation today.
In 2016, through donations, Rwanda-one4one met the financial goal to include, but not limited to, providing ongoing support for annual school fees for children in the families, sealing and painting of the inside of one home, paying for major surgery for a life-saving illness, creating an emergency medical fund, fabric funding for the Umva project which provides income opportunities, and basic emergency assistance. Rwanda-one4one focuses on entrepreneurship opportunities to help the family members who cannot find employment. In September 2016, Umva took part in a collaboration with a Rwandan fashion designer, YOzeta, at the Rwanda Cultural Fashion Show in Kigali, Rwanda to showcase the natural dyeing of Umva with YOzeta designs. We couldn’t be more proud of how Umva is growing in the natural dye textile trade. We support the families as a safety net against the struggles of poverty they face every day. The kindness and care donors have offered has made an enormous impact on the lives of these families.
4/17/15: We met the goal. Thank you all, so very much. This year’s journey begins.
7/30/15: The improvements to the home, and other goals, were successfully completed by July 2015 as stated below. All donors were kept notified of the progress through the completion.
Rwanda~one4one has three specific goals for this year. The first is to have a cement floor poured and a ceiling installed in the family home. With a minimum elevation of 3000 feet above sea level in Rwanda, a rainy day is also a cold day. The family’s home sits at roughly 4500 feet above sea level. The long, rainy season runs for 3-4 months and poses enough difficulties outside, let alone in the home. Presently, the floor is dirt and when it rains the moisture creeps in and results in a damp, slippery floor. There is only a pitched metal roof with walls that are partial between the 4 rooms. Rwandan homes don’t have heat systems, but with a ceiling installed down to the walls and a raised, dry floor, any warmth generated from the family gathering together would remain in the rooms. The second goal is to install a water line from the water utility to the home. The third goal is to fund the family’s three youngest children’s school fees for the coming year. If contributions surpass the present goal they will be used for additional projects. You may contact me for specifics.
Any contribution is gratefully accepted and you will be included in a regular, non-public newsletter giving full documentation of the funds raised, how they are spent and including family news as the year unfolds. All contributions will receive a wee-sized, handmade artbook from Rwanda when I return in July 2015. On behalf of the family, they thank you for your kindness, care and love. Please join in the good we can do through Rwanda~one4one.
In the past 21 years Rwandans have shown the world anything is possible with unity, faith and hope. They have chosen life, not death; forgiveness over blame. They have chosen to build their future, not remain in their past. This year marks the 21st commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi:
Remember, Unite, Renew.
And so they are.
Thank you all.
I am delighted to share that I have been offered a dye plant research residency at a university in the Northern Province, Rwanda, for the summer of 2015. The university has an extensive botanical garden with more than 300 native species of medicinal plants, shrubs and trees for which they conduct research to provide uses and dosage information to traditional Rwandan healers. Medicinal plants, since time immemorial, have been used in Rwanda as a source of medicine. With most regional plant species at my fingertips and a lab to do the research, my desire to document Rwandan plant species, for natural dye properties, is moving forward. My findings will be documented and become a permanent part of the university library for all to refer to.
In 2014, our donors raised enough money to purchase a milking cow for our Rwandan family and to hire a cow keeper to search for grasses and fetch water each day. In March, 2014, the family cow died. There are 6 children at home, ranging in ages from 15 to 1 year, the youngest is Akim, whose mother died in childbirth. All the children are being raised by the Grandmother. Without breast milk, Akim needed a good source of protein and fresh cow’s milk is the best option. We raised the funds needed to purchase a new cow and to hire a cow keeper to give Grandmother some relief from her daily duties. In June, the cow was purchased. ”Inshuti” the cow, meaning “friends” in Kinyarwanda, is now at the family home, giving 5 liters of fresh milk per day to the family. The family is eternally thankful. I have met the entire family and they are a fine family, working very hard to hold things together as best they can.
During the winter months before traveling to Rwanda, I coordinated with the founder of Alpha Community Academy in Kigali, Rwanda, and the principal of our town elementary school, Westmoreland School, Westmoreland, NH, a school drawing exchange. Each school drew between 170-200 pictures across a few months. The theme was what students do during the year in their area to share the differences in culture and activities. I spent a day at the academy touring the school, giving our drawings and meeting the students and teachers. The classes came together for group photos. One photo shows the students holding a greeting for Westmoreland and the other holding some of the drawings they had received from Westmoreland School. Alpha Community Academy provides schooling, grades K-6, for all the children in a specific community in Kigali. Whether they are without funds or can pay, all students get equal schooling, meals and care. Alpha Community Academy is a very special school and I hope we can give them some support as the year goes forward. Ideas are being considered and I welcome your interest.
In June 2013, I traveled to Rwanda to work with a cooperative of 35 women, from very vulnerable life situations. The goal was to increase their natural dye knowledge and color palette for their yarn, Handspun Hope. They were already using eucalyptus, coreopsis and other bio-regional dyestuffs. Madder root, cochineal bugs, weld flower, indigo, woad seeds and locally-sourced onion skins were introduced during the week.
Finding more ways for the women to create natural colors on their yarns using dye plants they could grow themselves would offer them a sustainable and regional dye source. Of course, some dyes need to be obtained globally, such as indigo and cochineal. It is imperative for the women to work to support themselves and their families through learned skills they can continue with in the absence of outside help and to keep production costs to a minimum.
The visit was so rewarding regarding the ladies quick learning and the stunning colors they achieved. Yet even deeper was the gift of kindness they shared. I was welcomed into the center with open arms and hearts. They were eager to teach their language, songs and dances. They imbued the gift of hope, love, and thankfulness.
Since May 2013, Handspun Hope is now producing large quantities of handspun, naturally dyed yarns and has secured a commercial buyer in the US for finished products such as gloves, scarves and hats. The initial donation of time, training and pounds of natural dyes has sewn its seeds. For that I am eternally thankful. Mission accomplished!