Traditional Conical Rwandan Basket with Lid
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Baskets have served many functions in Rwandan history -- holding food, celebrating weddings, and carrying secrets from one woman to another. This traditional basket is handwoven by the artisans of Gahaya Links -- a group founded in 2003 by Janet Nkubana and Joy Ndungutse, two sisters who are improving the rural Rwandan economy through the marketing of artisan handicrafts. The baskets are made from natural fibers, utilizing a technique that has been practiced for almost a thousand years.
Rwanda, a tiny and extremely poor country in the lakes region of East Africa, experienced a devastating civil war in 1994. Handicrafts such as these baskets form a major source of income for Rwandan people -- and are a testament to the strength of the proud Rwandan people and their commitment to weaving a lasting peace.
Without lid, basket measures approximately 4.5" T x 5" dia. (11.4 x 12.7 cm), and the lid is about 5" T (12.7 cm). A tiny looped handle sits at the tip of the lid. Handwoven in and fairly traded from Rwanda.
Created to help women worldwide gain economic security for themselves and their families by earning fair wages for their handiwork, Global Girlfriend sources women-made, fair-trade imported, eco-friendly products. By supporting long-term partnerships with the artisans, it fosters equal employment opportunities, healthy and safe working conditions, technical assistance, and development strategies to help reduce poverty, one community at a time. Become a "Global Girlfriend" and help build a brighter future for girlfriends around the globe!
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Artisan: Gahaya Links
In the tiny, land-locked country of Rwanda, ravaged by the 1994 genocide that created hundreds of thousands of widows, hope might seem hard to come by. But this conflict-ravaged place is also the home to Gahaya Links, a company with a vision of peace between Hutus and Tutsis, of employment and income for female heads of household, and of a brighter future for all.
Gahaya Links was founded in 2003 by Joy Ndungutse and Janet Nkubana, two sisters who have found that the way to weave straw into gold is through fair trade. Gahaya Links works with 54 cooperatives throughout Rwanda, employing thousands of weavers, most of whom are women. Each cooperative is run by a democratically-elected president, secretary, and treasurer -- literacy is the only requirement -- and each cooperative is structured so that Hutu and Tutsi weavers work side by side, promoting reconciliation as the country struggles to come back from its long nightmare.
"Our main achievement is seeing how the women we work with have changed from how they were [directly post-genocide] to how they are now." --Joy Ndungutse
Joy Ndungutse's designs are taught to master weavers from each cooperative, who travel to the headquarters in Kigali to learn new designs and techniques as they are decided upon. The master weavers then return to their cooperatives to teach the other weavers, thus fostering leadership and community as well as guaranteeing standardized quality.
In addition to the weavers' salaries, Gahaya Links puts one dollar into a savings account for each basket completed. The mandatory savings program has enabled the weavers to afford more-nutritious food, pay for their children's education, obtain medical care, and afford to wear shoes. None of these things were possible on their previous incomes.
Through their dedication and work, Joy Ndungutse and Janet Nkubana have created a flourishing business that is sowing the seeds for a lasting peace.
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