Ancient Art Weaves Brighter Future
Solidarite' baskets blend iconic Rwandan shapes and patterns with hope - healing the wounds of the past and alleviating poverty.
Solidarite' is an association comprised of 375 women and men joined together by their commitment to fight HIV/AIDS and alleviate poverty in their community. Solidarite' supports 340 orphans and vulnerable children and approximately 30% of Solidarite<' members are living with HIV/AIDS.
Working out of a small workshop in the outskirts of Kigali, Rwanda, the women of Solidarite' come together to learn and practice the traditional crafts of sewing, weaving, beading and carving. Manos de Madres met the weavers of Solidarite' in the winter of 2008 and were captivated by their passionate commitment to self-sufficiency. Solidarite' receives no financial support from outside organizations and is sustained solely by the income generated from the sale of their crafts. With a limited domestic market and significant competition, the opportunity to export to the U.S. gave Solidarite' its first avenue for significant income generation and growth. In the nine months after Manos began working with Solidarite', the number of weavers increased by 50%, from 30 to 45 women.
In addition to importing their baskets, Manos de Manos has acted as an advocate for Solidarite' with the Rwandan government. As a result, the weavers of Solidarite' have received national recognition for the craftsmanship and will be awarded the highly coveted "Certificate of Authenticity" for their baskets. They were also invited to participate in the Rwandan pavilion of the Dubai Global Village from November 2008 through February 2009. This breakthrough offers Solidarite' the opportunity to expand its market to the Middle East and Europe and to sell on both the retail and wholesale level. Solidarite's participation in the Dubai Global Village has also expanded the range of technical assistance and services offered by Manos de Madres. As no funding options were available for Solidarite's travel expenses, Manos de Madres entered the field of micro-finance. We extended our first loan totaling just under $3,000 to Liberate' Uwimana, the president of Solidarite' to enable her to attend the three-month Dubai Expo. The loan is scheduled to be repaid in full with no interest upon Liberate's return from Dubai in February.
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