superdumb supervillain: Rwanda Path to Peace Baskets

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rwanda Path to Peace Baskets

A few months ago, I wrote about fair trade and the Heart of Haiti project. Macy's sells lovely artisan-made gifts from Haiti through a collaboration with Fair Winds Trading, and their partnership also distributes gorgeous baskets woven by women in Rwanda via Rwanda Path to Peace.

Rwanda Path to Peace was founded in July 2005 as a way to promote lasting economic security to the women of Rwanda. The country's volatile political history has been divisive, to say the least, and the project gives women a way to use their traditional crafts as a sustainable way to take care of their families. It is strengthening the sense of community by allowing women who were once on opposite sides of the conflict to work together. The steady income provides confidence and independence, as well as more tangible necessities such as food, clothing, healthcare and education. Mothers are providing for their children's brighter future. 

Did I mention how beautiful these baskets are? They are stunning, especially when grouped, as in the photo below. I want to live there.

I received the bold, black and white Imvura Rain Fruit Bowl:


The pattern, woven of sisal and sweetgrass, represents the life-giving rain.

Baskets woven by the women, exported to the US and sold exclusively at Macy’s Department Stores are the number one export out of Rwanda under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. 

Here are just some of the ways Rwanda Path to Peace has impacted the basket weavers.
  • Strengthening Families
  • The Rwanda basket weaving project is strengthening families. Domestic violence in Rwanda is not uncommon, but now that women are bringing income into the home husbands are showing increased respect for their wives and in many cases domestic violence has ceased.  Husbands now offer to tend the children while their wives weave, which helps create stronger family bonds. The men are also assisting by harvesting and transporting raw materials and finished baskets, creating another income stream. Earning a steady income eases much of the stress of domestic life, and we have heard many stories of homes that are now more peaceful because there is an income from sales of baskets.
  • Impact on HIV/AIDS
  • The project has greatly improved conditions for HIV positive weavers. They can now afford good nutrition, so their medications are much more effective. Weavers with HIV no longer feel hopeless and stigmatized, but instead are respected for earning an income, like anyone else. They have their pride back, and are no longer ashamed.  Instead of being resigned to hopelessness, as they often were in the past, they are now making plans for life.
  • Changing lives of children
  • The Rwanda Path to Peace project has directly impacted the lives of thousands of children. Income from the weaving project provides food, clothing, healthcare, school uniforms, shoes, and school supplies.  We heard that before our project many of the children had only one set of clothing. Their clothes could not be washed during the week because they didn’t have another set to wear.  Now many children have two sets of clothing, so they can wear clean clothes all the time.  Their mothers can also afford to send them to school with a biscuit so they can eat during the day.  They are drinking clean water because the mothers can afford water-purification tablets.  As in many African nations, adolescent and teen girls would often drop out of school due to difficulties based on the lack of feminine hygiene products.  This problem has been solved so girls remain in school – free to learn and engage in sports activities.  The children have paper and pencils so they can learn to write.  The weavers’ children are very proud of their parents’ ability to provide them with these life-changing luxuries.
  • Public Health
  • Weavers are now able to afford mosquito netting, greatly reducing the incidence of malaria.  Many families now have clean water because they can purchase water purification tablets.
  • Reconciliation
  • The Rwanda Path to Peace Project is helping Rwanda in the process of healing and reconciliation. Weavers, organizers, suppliers, and government officials are working closely together to insure the success of this important project. Where there had been conflict and separation Rwandans are now working together for their common good. Weavers whose families had been at odds now work side by side making baskets and providing an income that helps improve their families and communities
One criticism: Fluffy says they should make the baskets much, much bigger…

In accordance to the FTC Guidelines and the WOMMA Code of Ethics, I am disclosing that I received the bowl shown above to facilitate this review. All opinions are, as usual, strictly my own. 


  1. Hahahaha. I love that Fluffy approves the basket for sitting. This program is really such an incredible example of how trade not aid organizations can SUSTAIN. In doing so the growth and quality of life spreads exponentially. Thanks so much for posting and helping us keep Rwanda on the forefront of our minds.

  2. They are such gorgeous baskets. I seriously want a whole wall of them like in the photo. I'll have to settle for my green one, which I enjoy every day.

  3. These are beautiful! Thank you for this information.

  4. Gorgeous baskets & you know I love the program. I still wish we could have gone to Haiti together!


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