25 years after genocide devastated Rwanda, a brave woman named Immaculee loved her country so much that she wanted to make a difference. Immaculee Nyiramuhakwa saw the poverty in her home and community, and desired to change the world around her. She is a gifted weaver, and knew how valuable that was. She invited a group of impoverished women to come together and learn the craft. Out of the vision for a better future for their community, the group called themselves the Abaharaniriterambere "People Fighting for Development" Cooperative.

15 years later, the group is comprised of 26 women and 2 men. They are working with excellence in their area of specialty, using locally grown products such as banana leaves to create functional household items. 

This reminds me of another Immaculee from Rwanda. Immaculee Illibagiza wrote about her surviving the Rwandan genocide of 1994 in her book, Left to Tell: Discovering God Admist the Rwandan Genocide. She and seven other women survived by hiding in the tiny bathroom of a pastor’s house. She details the terror of it all, but amazingly, also shares the incredible faith she found in Christ in the midst of it. With no personal space and very little food or water, she passed the long hours by reading the Bible and praying. Since then, she has become an inspirational speaker and been involved in many important initiatives for her country.

The resilience of the people of Rwanda is inspiring. Men and women of bravery and fortitude who love their country dearly and desire a better future have worked hard to see it revitalized. Immaculee Nyiramuhakwa is one of those people and helps lift her Rwandan community out of poverty with the weaving cooperative.

The cooperative group’s goal is to develop themselves and their community through their art. In the past year, the group members have been able to use their income to provide food, clothing, and soap for their families. The married women of the group have seen peace and happiness grow in their homes as they have had the opportunity for financial independence and the dignity of being significant contributors to the family’s wellbeing. The members of Abaharaniriterambere use their time together not only to weave and exchange advice, but to discuss important topics such as women’s rights. With Immaculee still leading the way, this group is determined to continue to better themselves and their community, and to stand strong in Rwanda’s vision for a better future. The artisans currently work in the local schoolyard in Nyaruguru District, but they dream of building their own weaving house.

Their beautiful, locally sourced products are made by hand, and are great conversational pieces for the Western market. Entertaining guests with a banana leaf nesting tray or the banana leaf divided serving tray are great ways to serve in style, and more importantly, share the stories of the inspiring people behind the products. 

Banana Leaf Nesting Tray Sets from Rwanda 

Banana Leaf Divided Serving Tray 

The weaving cooperative is among 30 independent groups in Rwanda who partner with Azizi Life. Azizi Life is a partner of Jesus’ Economy. The vision of Azizi Life is “to participate in local initiatives for the development of Rwandan communities, working towards physical and spiritual wholeness for all.”

When you shop at Jesus’ Economy, you can choose the “Shop Fair Trade by Artisan” feature. Each of our artisans has a special story, and is changing lives in their family and community. You can also choose the “Shop by Country” feature, and choose Rwanda to support Immaculee and the Abaharaniriterambere Cooperative.  

In Rwanda, a fair trade cooperative called the Kundagaseke, or “Basket Lovers,” Association is making big waves with their everyday work. By weaving fair trade products, artisans with Kundagaseke are lifting themselves and their community out of poverty.

Weaving goods by hand requires fine skill and a careful eye; in fact, each bracelet takes a full day to create. Though the work takes a lot of time, the 17 women of Kundagaseke love what they do, and are determined to use their business to improve their situations. Their mission is to fight against poverty and to develop themselves.

Fair trade Brings a Stable Future

In addition to weaving baskets, coasters, earrings, and bracelets, the women also farm, and through their work, are able to make enough money to support themselves and their families. They have been able to provide for their basic needs, such as clothes, shoes, soap, and health insurance. Several women have also been able to purchase cell phones and invest in land and domestic animals. This is a huge step that works toward a more stable future in Rwanda for generations to come.

The artisans also use their time together to cultivate an encouraging environment and to discuss unity, culture, and reconciliation. This kind of fellowship and friendship in the workplace is invaluable, and promotes emotional and spiritual wellbeing, in addition to physical security.

The Kundagaseke Association is one of 25 independent artisan groups represented by Azizi Life, a new partner of Jesus’ Economy.

Shopping fair trade is a small way you can impact the world in big ways.

Azizi Life, a new partner of Jesus’ Economy, represents more than 400 artisans and 25 independent artisan groups in Rwanda. One of these independent artisan groups is the Abaharaniriterambere Cooperative. The Abaharaniriterambere Cooperative began with one woman who had a desire to change the world around her.

Immaculee Nyiramuhakwa saw the poverty in her home and community, and wanted to do something about it. She had weaving skills, and knew she could use those skills to do something about her suffering community. She invited a group of women from around her community to come learn to weave and work toward improving their families’ situations. More than 15 years later, Abaharaniriterambere has 26 women and 2 men working to create functional household items from banana tree leaves and stalks.

Fair Trade Brings a Brighter Future

The group’s goal is to develop themselves and their community through their art. The income these artisans receive helps them maintain their business, and also provide for the basic needs of themselves and their families. This means that, unlike before, they have access to medical insurance, school materials for their children, soap and cleaning products, healthier foods for a more balanced diet, farm animals, and financial independence.

There is a lot of time to talk when weaving, and members of this group use their time together to exchange advice and discuss important topics such as women’s rights. They also talk about their dream of opening their own weaving house and expanding their business.

With Immaculee as a leader, this group is determined to continue to better themselves and their community, and to stand strong in Rwanda’s vision for a better future. The artisans at Abaharaniriterambere have found fellowship and encouragement among one another, and have seen peace and happiness grow in their homes.

 Fair trade makes the world a better place. Be a part of change.

Are you looking for some beautiful and unique home décor? Azizi Life, a new partner of Jesus’ Economy, is a fair trade organization that sells vibrant products inspired by Rwandan tradition. Each of their products is handmade using natural resources such as locally-sourced Jacaranda wood, tea dyes, and forest grasses. These home goods are not  only practical and environmentally conscious, but they are also fairly traded, and their purchase ensures support for the artisans who made them. Each piece is carefully crafted and gorgeous, while also being a great conversation piece to add to your home.

 

Fair Trade From Rwanda

Here are some of the stunning products created by artisans with Azizi Life.

 

Banana Leaf Nesting Tray Sets from Rwanda

These nesting trays, made from the locally-gathered leaves and stalks of banana trees, are ideal for serving, decorating, and organizing. They come in sets of three, with either a natural or a chevron pattern interior, and are perfect for a variety of uses. Use the medium tray to keep fresh cookies warm (it fits a 9”x13” baking pan!), or to display towels in the guest room. The three trays fit inside each other for great storage, too.

 

Bookends from Rwanda: Giraffe 

Each one carved from a single piece of wood, these bookends truly are functional art. What a great way to add style and organization to your bookshelf or to showcase your favorite books. These are made from Jacaranda trees, a tree that grows quickly, and even grows back after being cut, making it a renewable resource.

 

Baskets from Rwanda: Tea Swirl

This basket comes in small, medium, or large, and is perfect for serving or display. You could put a small basket near your front door to hold your keys, or place a large basket on your dining room table and fill it with fruit. Each basket has a loop on the back for easy hanging, and would look fabulous on your living room wall. When your guests ask about it, you can tell them the story about where it came from and how you positively impacted a community in Rwanda.

 

Earrings from Rwanda: Colorful Woven Disc

Available in nine eye-popping colors and two different sizes, these earrings are sure to be a perfect addition to your wardrobe. They are created with all-natural sisal fibers and woven with an age-old basket weaving technique. The hoops are then attached to hypoallergenic earring hooks for your comfort. Pick a color to match your favorite sweater, or select a more basic white or black to accent your dress for a night out.

 

Banana Twine Magazine Tote from Rwanda 

The magazine tote is a great basket that makes a practical decoration, and an easy on-the-go carrier. With hand-spun banana leaf twine, this basket is sturdy and durable, perfect for a stack of books, a few skeins of yarn, or some of your tot’s favorite toys. It could even work as a little picnic basket!

 

Baskets from Rwanda: Teardrop in Black and Natural 

This unique and beautiful bamboo basket is handcrafted in the traditional Rwandan technique. It is lightweight and delicate, perfect for display or for holding your treasures. Each of the colors is created with natural dyes such as tea, soot, and rock applied to the grass with banana flower.

 

Banana Leaf Divided Serving Tray From Rwanda 

The Banana Divided Serving Tray is crafted from the locally-gathered leaves and stalks of banana trees. Artisans use a specially designed, handmade needle to thread dried banana leaves around the banana stalks. The result is a super-sturdy tray that’s great for carrying cups. And actually, this tray can be used to serve, store, and sort all kinds of things—feel free to be imaginative! What about a funky little shelf or a fun storage place for craft supplies? You can even use the tray to hold boxes of tea bags!

 

Shopping fair trade is an amazing way to provide for the things you need while supporting the needs of others around the world.

 Shop Azizi Life Fair Trade 

 

The fair trade shop at JesusEconomy.org has some new baskets—just in time for last minute Christmas shopping! Now you can shop fair trade, take care of the environment, and decorate and organize your home at the same time. Here are a few of the beautiful fair trade baskets and storage units created by artisans from Rwanda.  

 

Baskets from Rwanda: Constellation in Black & Tea   

This basket comes in small, medium, or large, and is perfect for serving or display. You could put a small basket near your front door and use it for keys, or a medium basket on your dining room table filled with fruit. Each basket also has a loop on the back for easy hanging, and they would look gorgeous on your living room wall. And when your guests ask about it, tell them the story about where it comes from and how you positively impacted a community in Rwanda.

 

Banana Leaf Tapered Tray from Rwanda

This tray is crafted from locally-gathered stalks of leaves from banana trees. The leaves are carefully threaded around the stalks, and the result is a super sturdy tray that’s great for any use. Buy one, or buy three—they’re easy to stack!

 

Baskets from Rwanda: Teardrop in Red and Natural  

This unique and beautiful bamboo basket is handcrafted in the traditional Rwandan technique. It is lightweight and delicate, perfect for display or for holding your treasures. Each of the colors is created with natural dyes such as tea, soot, and rock applied to the grass with banana flower.

 

Banana Twine Magazine Tote from Rwanda

The magazine tote is a great basket that makes a practical decoration, and an easy on-the-go carrier. With hand-spun banana leaf twine, this basket is sturdy and durable, and perfect for a stack of books, a few skeins of yarn, or some of your tot’s favorite toys. It could even work as a little picnic basket! Buy one and bring hope to artisans in Rwanda!

 

Banana Leaf Nesting Cubes from Rwanda

These beautiful rustic boxes are a wonderful way to stay organized in fair trade style. They are available in three sizes, and they fit inside each other nicely. These cubes are practical and durable, and are the perfect way to manage craft supplies, toys, or sweaters. The large size is even designed to fit into regular modular storage shelves. You can’t go wrong with these storage cubes, and you can’t go wrong with fair trade.

 

Baskets from Rwanda: Traditional Grass Peace Basket in Black and White

This striking basket is the quintessential Rwandan gift. In Rwanda, these baskets are often used to hold other gifts—like the one given by every bride to her new husband’s mother. This type of basket is often used to hold dry goods like beans or rice. Each grass basket takes an entire week to weave, and it’s made from all-natural and locally grown materials. Be smart about the environment, support artisans around the world, and buy one of these baskets!

 

Banana Panel Storage Box from Rwanda   

Having trouble staying organized? These boxes are the answer! Created with banana leaves. These boxes are practical and can hold up to your demands! Use one to store your favorite photos, some small toys, or use it to stack napkins in the middle of your table. Pick up a fair trade storage box and change a life in Rwanda today!

 

Doing some really last minute gift shopping? Today is the last day to order first class mail and get it by Christmas! Today is also the last day to order Azizi Life fair trade until after the holidays!

Shopping fair trade brings communities together, treats the earth right, and is an all-around ethical way to buy things for yourself and for others.

 

Shop Fair Trade from Rwanda