Being in the kitchen can be a frustrating or enjoyable experience, depending on your personality and mood. Not everyone loves to cook, some don't even know how but at some point, cooking is a necessity. That necessity can become routine and mundane. That's why there's a National Cooking Day (and also because Americans love making a day for EVERYTHING) which is today. 

National Cooking Day is meant to encourage and inspire everyone to discover something new and enjoy being in the kitchen. And we thought, what's a better way to be inspired in the kitchen than with products that do the inspiring for you? We've put together a list of items sure to spark your imagination each time you step foot in your kitchen. Starting with the most obvious, the apron (which are currently on sale!). 

Plaid Twill Aprons from Guatemala: Brick and Pumpkin

Aprons are one of the most basic kitchen tools that often get seen as something reserved for grandmas, chefs, and the grill master. But no more. Aprons are handy to keep stains away (especially grease), keep kitchen utensils in to have on hand, and something to wipe your hands on which inevitably happens every 30 seconds it seems. Plus this one is perfect for fall. 

Table Runners from Guatemala: Mustard Plaid

Sometimes all it takes to inspire a beautiful, tasty meal is an inviting table. What better way to look forward to eating meals at your table than with a gorgeous, handwoven table runner? It'll make you want to keep coming back to eat at your table. Plus, we sell coordinating napkins that will really make your table inviting. 

Kitchen Gift Set from Guatemala: Brick and Pumpkin Pot Holder and Towel

To round out the fabric picks and to coordinate with the earlier mentioned apron, we have a potholder and towel set. These bright colors will be sure to ignite an idea as an excuse to use this gripper potholder. 

Banana Leaf Divided Serving Tray from Rwanda

This gorgeous divided serving tray is handwoven with banana tree stalks and leaves. I mean, just looking at this photo makes you want to organize a dinner party immediately and use this to serve drinks to your guests. What better reason than to get in the kitchen and cook than a dinner party? 

Baskets from Haiti: Casserole 14" x 10"

A good, hearty casserole can make all the difference, for a plethora of situations. This casserole basket is handwoven and naturally water resistant. One look and you'll be inspired to cook up a delicious, creamy casserole for yourself, your family, your friends, your neighbors, anybody! 

The Jesus' Economy Fair Trade Shop is full of kitchen products that are handmade and beautifully crafted for you to enjoy in your kitchen for years to come. Plus, they're all made from locally sourced and sustainable materials, not to mention the waste you'll cut down on in your own kitchen (like using fabric napkins that can be washed, for example). Check out our household collection for more products like this for the kitchen and beyond. 

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.  

Several years ago, the local parish of the Catholic Church in Gisagara District, a southern province in Rwanda, chose several vulnerable children to participate in a year-long program to learn how to basket-weave and in turn provide for themselves and their families. Each of the participants were orphans who were also charged with taking care of their younger siblings and/or elders. Among these children were Sixbert, Media, and Clementine (pictured above).

When their training was complete, and now that they were adults, the three friends decided to join their skills together to build a business. They formed the Amizero Cooperative and are now part of Azizi Life, a partner of Jesus’ Economy. Azizi Life, a fair trade organization dedicated to working with artisans who receive fair wages for their labor, represents 25 independent artisan groups throughout Rwanda. The income the creators earn helps them maintain their businesses and provide for their families, including now having access to medical insurance, school supplies, healthier foods, and financial independence. Azizi Life is transforming Rwandan communities through artists like Sixbert, Media, and Clementine.

A few years ago, Sixbert and Media got married, and now they are building a family. With the money they have earned from their business, they have been able to construct a home with electricity and water for their family, and Clementine has been able to buy land locally.

Sixbert, Media, and Clementine’s specialty is creating home goods from hand twisted banana twine. Leaves and stalks of banana trees are a renewable resource in Rwanda, and if they are woven skillfully, the products will be sturdy and last for many years.

Banana Twine Panier from Rwanda

Together Sixbert, Media, and Clementine are running a successful business, and it is their togetherness and their craft that is leading them toward amizero: hope.

Shop Amizero Cooperative Products