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Dyeing For Peace in Rwanda

by Rwanda-one4one
Dyeing For Peace in Rwanda
Dyeing For Peace in Rwanda
Dyeing For Peace in Rwanda
Dyeing For Peace in Rwanda
Dyeing For Peace in Rwanda
Dyeing For Peace in Rwanda
Dyeing For Peace in Rwanda
Dyeing For Peace in Rwanda
Dyeing For Peace in Rwanda
Dyeing For Peace in Rwanda
Dyeing For Peace in Rwanda
Dyeing For Peace in Rwanda
Dyeing For Peace in Rwanda
Dyeing For Peace in Rwanda
Dyeing For Peace in Rwanda
Dyeing For Peace in Rwanda
Umva at Textile Show October 2021
Umva at Textile Show October 2021

Our ladies in Rwanda have been unable to dye any Umva scarves and wraps since the pandemic began. We can't get fabric to them due to travel restrictions and risks. Luckily we had a decent amount of inventory before the pandemic hit, but our primary retail outlets were also shut down due to COVID: the safari lodges in Rwanda had no guests and our big textile show in upstate New York was cancelled last year. Our board made the decision to continue providing income to the ladies nonetheless as the pandemic made their financial challenges even greater.

The good news is that the NY textile show was held this October. Although it was scaled back considerably, our team put together a beautiful booth with our remaining inventory and did far better than we had anticipated. A bright spot indeed!

On the education front we have continued to see an increase in school fees due to COVID-related expenses. We also have three new children in school this fall. With education for school age children being core to our mission, we made the decision to continue funding beyond our budgeted levels to keep them going.

We could have done NONE of this for our families if it weren't for your faith in our mission and your generous support of these remarkable people.

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, and those of our families.

Umva textiles in the dyepot
Umva textiles in the dyepot

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Washing dishes and clean-up
Washing dishes and clean-up

Rwandan families all share in the household duties, from the youngest to the elders. There are many tasks in their daily lives including gathering firewood for cooking, fetching water at the village well, tending the vegetable garden, washing clothes, sweeping the house and outside work areas, and washing the dishes after meals. The families we work with take great pride in their homes and personal care. Teaching the children these fundamentals brings responsibility as they grow up. 

All of the children in our education program are still attending school and are so grateful for the gift of an education. Amidst the lockdowns and re-openings this year they have been able to continue their studies through at-home schooling as well as in-school when possible. Their grades are average to above average and we are so proud of them for strivng despite their daily challenges. Some of the children have long walks to school each day and must leave quite early in order to be on time for the opening bell. 

Due to travel restrictions during the pandemic we have been unable to take fabric into Rwanda for the ladies to dye Umva product. Rwanda has no source for fabrics so we rely on sources outside of the country. We can't ship the fabric because the shipping and handling costs are exhorbitant.. We are exploring other options; the most viable is to send fabric with other travelers who may be able to go, such as Rwandan students at US universities. If we can move more fabrics for dyeing we will increase the income the ladies can earn. Please keep us in mind if you or someone you know is planning travel to Rwanda and would consider bringing along some fabric. 

Especially, we are thankful for your support as we navigate new ways to move the mission of Rwanda-one4one forward. Rwanda is a land-locked country on a continent full of struggle yet we believe the effort is worthy as is evidenced by the smiles on the faces of our children and their parents and guardians.

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Grandmother and great grandchildren
Grandmother and great grandchildren

Our taxi entrepreneur is driving again, but as of June 23, inter-province travel has been shut down again due to a sharp rise in COVID cases. A recent volcano eruption and earthquakes drove many Congolese into Rwanda, complicating matters, and neighboring Uganda's cases are soaring. Many travelers coming into Rwanda are testing positive. 

Thankfully, schools are still open, so our children are focused on their studies and getting school meals. The family to whom we made a loan to build a modest house has finished it as best they can for now and made their first payment to us. We all hope the new restrictions do not impact their ability to earn income and make their payments, but it will be challenging. 

We don't yet know if we will be able to make the planned September visit to bring fabric for the dyers given all the changing dynamics. For now, we continue to provide additional support to make up for their lost income.

We could do none of this without your support. Thank you for sticking with us through this most difficult time.

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High school cousins
High school cousins

As we continue to navigate the uncharted waters of the Covid pandemic, all of us at Rwanda-one4one recognize we are only as strong as you, our caring community of supporters. You give with your hearts and put your trust in our ability to deliver hope to the Rwandan families we serve.

It is a blessing that no one in our Rwandan families has become ill from Covid-19. The children are all back in school, thankfully. We receive their report cards and many are receiving above average grades. They do not have to worry about missing school due to lack of funds, and they are able to enjoy school meals again.

Unfortunately, schools have raised fees almost 30% since reopening to cover pandemic-related expenses. The financial strain on families that could barely afford the fees before has caused many children to have to leave school. If it were not for our donor funded education project, the children in our families would also be at home. Thank you so much for recognizing the value of a good education for Rwandan youth!

We also continue our focus on health, both physical and mental, for the families we support. The stress and worry during this uncertainty have caused issues that need medical attention. The silver lining in all of this is that Rwanda has, thus far, been spared a heavy infection rate. 

Our founder, Nancy Zeller, has made all the travel preparations to travel to Rwanda in September. The women will be able to create more Umva wearable products, and the visit will do all the families good. She brings reading eyeglasses, donated cellphones and laptops, and other necessities. (If you have a generation 5 or later cell phone you can donate, let us know!) All are eager for the visit and to get to work creating Umva one-of-a-kind originals. When Nancy returns, she will prepare to showcase Umva textiles at a New York trade show in October.

It is often said in Rwanda: “it is hard but not impossible” and that is how we must continue our work in this unprecedented time. If they can endure their hardships, we can bring solutions and hope whenever possible.

New life and hope
New life and hope

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Thank you for helping us get back to school!
Thank you for helping us get back to school!

With the COVID pandemic continuing throughout the world and new variants appearing, Rwanda continues to struggle along with so many other countries, lesser developed countries being hit especially hard. Our dyers are still unable to dye as we are unable to get fabric to them; our taxi entrepreneur and law clerk are unable to work due to ongoing pandemic related lockdowns. 

There are a couple of bright spots in the gloom, however. All the children whose schooling we support are now back in school, and we have paid all their fees. Unfortunately, the schools all raised the fees due to Covid issues, we understand increases are for cleaning and safety supplies. Without your generous support our families would be unable to cover the increased fees and the kids would be out of school.

The other good news is that we have provided a modest loan for one of our families to begin building their own home after ongoing challenges associated with their rental home. They are excited, and we are, too.

Our founder, Nancy, is still hoping for an opportunity to visit Rwanda this spring after having last year's visit cancelled due to the pandemic. If it is safe for her to travel, she would be able to bring the needed fabric to the dyers so they can produce more wraps and scarves for us to sell on their behalf, restoring desperately need income. Of course, with the slow rollout of vaccines and uncertainty about border restrictions, it is unknown whether her trip will be possible. 

Because of the ongoing challenges our families continue to face, we are continuing to increase our project goal over time. We started this effort on GlobalGiving in September of 2018, so our cumulative monies raised have covered nearly 2 1/2 years of support for education, entrepreneurship and skills building so that our families can have a fighting chance of becoming self-reliant. We are committed, with your ongoing support, to continue our efforts to provide not a hand-out, but a hand up, to these humble yet proud people who have suffered so much.

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Organization Information

Rwanda-one4one

Location: Westmoreland, NH - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @rwanda-one4one
Project Leader:
Nancy Zeller
Westmoreland, NH United States
$44,185 raised of $50,000 goal
 
826 donations
$5,815 to go
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