In their youth, the women of Abakundamurimo learned to craft through a vocational training program for vulnerable children at the local Anglican church. Today, they continue to earn income by harvesting dried leaves from their banana trees and creating mosaic greeting cards. In the hands of the artisans, tiny pieces of the banana leaf’s fine surface become mosaic images from Rwanda.
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Entries by Kath McGuire
In the hands of an artisan, banana branches which have sloughed off the tree become used to create something beautiful. Using only a razor blade and glue mixed with cassava flour, artisans cut tiny pieces of the surface of the leaf and glue them into patterns of beauty. Banana leaf mosaics beautifully adorn our greeting cards.
More than 4554 stitches are hand woven into every medium bowl. And with every stitch, the artisan had her family in mind.
With her fair wage income, she provides for the wellbeing of her household in the Rwandan countryside.
Nourishment, health, education, and dreams for a bright future- your basket holds much love.
The women of Abarikumwe are skilled farmers, excellent weavers, and delightful Experiences hostesses. One of Azizi Life’s first artisan partner groups, Abarikumwe has grown together with us, with much laughter along the way.
The Abarikumwe artisans specialize in weaving jewelry from natural sisal fibers. We are honored to introduce you to the creators of the very first Azizi Life Experience Day!
The founders of Abihuje began with the hope that if they joined their strength and knowledge together, they could work towards a solution to their poverty. As they began to work together, the group not only grew in skill, but in friendship and mutual support. The women of Abihuje specialize in weaving Rwandan Sisal Peace Baskets.With fair wages from their weaving and the strength of their friendships and faith, the women of Abihuje are raising their families out of poverty.
The women of the Zamuka cooperative are focused and determined. They are determined to be excellent weavers. They are determined to support one another. They are determined to build a strong foundation for their cooperative, their families, and their community. The income from weaving means that they can invest in the health of their land and their families. As a result of our weaving, our children have increased access to nutrition, health, and education.
The weavers of Twivanemubukene work together not only to get out of physical poverty through their craft sales, but also to support and encourage one another in all aspects of life. The women care for one another and help each other with loans from the group for urgent needs, and increased income which enables them to purchase food, soap, clothing, and school supplies. Guests rave about their Experience Days with Twivanemubukene artisans!
Every week, we each make a contribution to the group, which is used for members in need.
The eleven orphans who make up the Twisungane Association have been trained in banana leaf crafts to provide an income to care for their families. They make a wide variety of banana leaf designs and continue to grow and develop their skills.
We wish to one day own our own workshop and have sustainable, large orders.
A widow with 4 children and 9 grandchildren, Petronille has been creating musical shakers from natural gourds for more than 20 years. The income from her shakers provides for her family. In the future I would like to earn enough money from my craft to purchase a second cow.
Kundagaseke’s artistic specialty is weaving traditional Rwandan baskets from natural sisal fibers. The weavers’ primary desire is to connect with customers – a large and sustainable market – so that their weaving can provide a consistent income for them and their families. The members of the group also hope to keep progressing so they can follow their individual dreams: like paying tuition for their children to go to school. Our purpose is to fight against poverty and to develop ourselves.
Priska Kanakuze is the founder of the Kanguka Cooperative. She has passed down her weaving skills and Priska’s daughter Redempta is also a member of the group. When I was in the hospital about to have my first baby, I was scared. But then I remembered that it was Wednesday delivery day and at Azizi Life, my friends would be gathered together, praying for me. Then I felt assured and strengthened to bring my baby boy into the world. – Redempta
The Ingabokarugo “Helping Our Homes” Cooperative is made up of more than twenty women who endeavor to contribute to the livelihoods of their families through weaving. These artisans also are much-loved hostesses of Azizi Life Experiences guests.
Our financial independence has improved our relationships with our husbands and enabled us to contribute to our households.
Inganzo’s artistic focus is wooden figures significant to faith or Rwandan culture, such as nativities or statues of Rwandans in the midst of daily life.On a hill near my father’s home and next to my twin brother, I have built my own home with my income from wood carving. – Sylvere Maniraguha
Since 2011 the members of Ibyishimo Sewing Association have been providing for the education and nutrition of their children. As they sew, they discuss marriage and life, advising and encouraging one another.With foot pedal-powered sewing machines, seamstresses create beautiful goods from colorful market fabric.
Hezekiah learned woodcarving from his father, and in turn, he desires to teach other youth to carve. Creating beautiful birds ornaments and mobiles, Hezekiah is able to help support his mother and siblings since his father’s death. Hezekiah’s birds are carved from the branches of the Jacaranda tree, which regenerates itself with continued growth after it has been cut.
A householder and skilled potter, Francine uses traditional techniques to craft clay products like candle holders and piggy banks. Clay dug from the valley, potted and fired with centuries-old methods, yields pottery with a distinctive tan, rust and black finish.
The weavers of Duteraninkunga began as members of a savings and loan group who discovered that many had skills in weaving. Those weavers taught others in their group, and eventually a weaving cooperative was born. With strength and endurance, Duteraninkunga weavers craft baskets larger than most weavers have ever made in their whole lives!
The three young artisans of CPEFO Amizero have two main things in common. The first is their background of poverty and struggle. As youth, Sixbert, Media and Clementine were orphaned and became heads of their households, caring for younger siblings and elders. But the members of this small cooperative also hold something else in common:
Together, we are determined to use our craft for income and the betterment of our families.
The members of AVEKI Widows’ Cooperative meet weekly to weave natural sisal fibers into beautiful baskets and household items. With their craft, the women are fighting against poverty and developing their families without having to always have to ask for financial help from others. With the fair wage income from their weaving, they have been able to buy annual medical insurance for their families. We hope that in the future, each member will be able to own a cow and to pay school fees for her children.
The artisans of Agaseke k’Amahoro weave Traditional Grass Peace Baskets. The cooperative, born from the turmoil of the genocide, is comprised of neighbors from both sides of the conflict, working together for peace and reconciliation. Their vision is to promote peace within and outside their group as they practice their art for their livelihood.
“We must continue to work for wholeness. We must continue to pray for peace.”
– Pascasie Mukamuligo, President
Abumurava’s vision is to work together in order that the members may develop themselves, increase their standard of living, and reduce their financial dependence on others. Through Azizi Life’s nonprofit organization, the members have chosen to buy stoves which use less firewood. The weavers of Abumurava hope one day to have a cooperative house and a plantation of sisal for weaving.
We welcome visitors for Experience days and like to share our skills in weaving sisal fibers.
This group of over 20 women work together as a family to support each other and develop their skills. Since working with Azizi Life they have been able to buy annual health insurance and pay the school fees for their children.
We hope to gain income that will help us to maintain better lives and say goodbye to poverty forever.
The women of Abahuje Cooperative are aiming to be the best weavers they can be by always improving the quality of the bowls they create. Several members of the group have already made improvements to their homes by installing electricity, solar lamps, new wood stoves, etc, and the group now hopes to construct a small building for their cooperative.
We are a group of women who are improving our homes through selling our woven bowls through Azizi Life.
Across the hills of Rwanda, groups of rural artisans are working to bring hope to their families through skillfully handcrafted goods. Azizi Life partners with over 30 independent groups- a total of over 500 artisan partners. Rising from the horrors of genocide, artisans from all backgrounds have joined together once again through their craft. Each artisan cooperative specializes in hand crafting products using specific techniques and raw materials. Azizi Life is honored to partner with these women and men, collaborating to connect makers, designers, and customers around the world.
We love serving your vision for beauty and meaning in the gifts you give, what you wear, and how you decorate. Azizi Life serves as a bridge, partnering with artisans and designers to offer high quality, ethically-sourced goods for life and gifting. Products are crafted by hand using local, natural, and renewable materials. Our modern and traditional collections include baskets, woven bowls, home décor, tabletop, woven jewelry, and bags. Azizi Life offers products to US customers from our warehouse in Spokane, Washington, as well as FOB sales directly from Rwanda.
Azizi Life is a fair trade organization which partners with Rwandan artisans to bring beautifully designed, hand crafted goods to the world. As a not-for-profit organization, Azizi Life is dedicated to the wellbeing of our artisan partners and their families. In addition to opening economic opportunity through fair trade, Azizi Life invests in a range of community impact projects. Our Rwandan-led team facilitates adult literacy classes and offers other practical resources for personal, spiritual, and economic growth.