After a year of thoughtful planning and preparation Umva Boutique is now open in Musanze, Rwanda! In April our founder, Nancy Zeller and board member Jennifer Paone traveled to Rwanda to set up the new shop, provide additional dye training, onsite support, and meet with our new Rwandan board members.
Umva Boutique is located within a vibrant arts center, Musanze Arts Studio Hub Adventure, and includes a shop where customers can see the Umva line of scarves, wraps, dyed yardage and more. Adjacent to the shop is a work space where the women dye, providing new inventory as needed. We also have a seamstress and sewing machine in the shop that will allow customers to buy fabric and have it tailored into one-of-a-kind items.
Watching the women get into the swing of their new workspace has been inspiring. We worked through heavy rainstorms and warm sunny days, making a new way for the future. The location is perfect. Our dyers feel at home among other Rwandan artists, each working on their own endeavors, yet in each other's company.
The location also has a small office space for Rwanda-one4one as we have made our application to the Rwanda Governing Board to be a national NGO! Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting development in the coming months, and THANK YOU for making it all possible.
As you know, central to our mission is the support of primary education for Rwandan children. Children who graduate from high school in Rwanda have a far greater chance of becoming self-supporting as adults than those who do not.
This year, thanks to your generous support, we have been able to provide funding for several additional children, including two young brothers.
Here is a thank you note we received from Delphine, their adult sister. This note is for you.
The Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival has long been Umva's most productive sales outlet for the beautiful hand-dyed wool and silk scarves and wraps created by our Rwandan women dyers. The weekend-long event takes place in October in Rhinebeck, NY, but was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. Last year the festival was held but attendance fell short. Losing nearly two years of these sales was challenging for our project, but this year the festival was back in full swing and we had plenty of new inventory thanks to our visit to Rwanda in the spring.
The Umva booth drew much interest, garnering great exposure for the project, and we sold 70 beautiful new pieces of the ladies' work!
As we craft our plans for the new dye center in Rwanda, we are hopeful that it will bring the project more exposure within Rwanda and new opportunities to sell Umva products to tourists and safari lodges in country.
As always, we are humbly grateful for your support of this work, which provides a livelihood to our Rwandan women and their families. We could do none of this without you.
As we look foward to the grand opening of the Umva Project in Musanze, we are applying for a Rwandan National NGO registration. The process is detailed, requiring governing documents and an application through the Rwanda Governance Board. We are making steady progess yet it will take time to complete. The new location in Musanze will create visibility for the Umva project within the local community and further afield in Rwanda. Construction of our space is slated to begin in early 2023.
Umva will be located at Masha Arts Center Hub Adventure, a place for artists and craftspeople to create and sell their work. It includes a lovely cafe where visitors can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner. Visitors to Umva will be able to meet the dyers and shop for Umva products. It is a huge and exciting step forward for the project. It is time to think global and shop local in Rwanda!
Additionally, Desange, a 42 year old mother of one whose son is in our education program, was in critical need of surgery to remove a tumor from one of her fallopian tubes. Thanks to many generous donors like you, she underwent surgery July 26 to remove the tumor. She has fully recovered and she and her husband Martin are so grateful. They had worked hard to save some money, but it would have been another year or more until they could have paid the full cost of the surgery without the additional support.
We thank you - as always - for your generousity and commitment to our mission. We couldn't achieve any of this without you!
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