For one day while in Rwanda, Kate and I got to go outside the city to the Muhanga District where we spent the day with 7 women who are artisans with another co-op, Ingobokarugo Cooperative, in Rwanda. They make baskets and jewelry that they then sell through Azizi Life who sells their items to folks in the UK and the states. Through purchases of these items, the women are able to earn an income for their families, provide a way for their children to go to school, and contribute in other ways to their household.
These women opened up their home and time to us to show us what a day in their life looks like. We did everything from hoe in the field to carrying the cow’s lunch on our heads, to preparing their one meal of the day to learning how to make the jewelry they make ourselves!
This was an extremely eye opening experience. I saw families and children who live completely on the land…and there’s a joy that I couldn’t explain. These people are living in what to us here in the states would be seen as some of the most impoverished situations. But they have everything they need…and then some. In these communities, the families and neighbors share everything. When it’s time to kill the pig or cow…it’s shared with the entire community. When someone needs a house..all the men in the community come together to make the mud bricks and build the home. This mentality and way of life is fundamentally different from so many other cultures in the world. This is also what made the genocide and the murder of neighbors by neighbors an all the more shocking reality.
I’ve already touched on the ways this community and village were affected by the genocide and what that did for us during our stay there. You can read about that at this link…
Something happened that day that I will never forget...As we were leaving the families including all of their children sang and danced for us. While dancing their traditional tribal dance, they were thanking us for being a part of their lives for the day. They don’t know us…they definitely don’t understand us and yet they were so welcoming…they then asked us to sing and dance for them. We of course weren't prepared and even laughed at first. But then we decided to sing Amazing Grace. They had never heard the song and it was a very moving experience. We began to get emotional singing it and had a hard time getting through the song. It occurred to each of us while singing about grace and eternity to those who don't even speak the same language that one day we will all sing together. We will worship and sing praises to God with members of God's family literally from every tribe and every nation..
when we've been there ten thousand years..
The kids in the villages all run to the street when they hear a car coming. They don’t see cars very often so when one pulls up they drop everything and run after it…waving and often yelling “mzungu!” which means “white person!” The photos of the kids and families doing this are some that I will treasure forever. The experience of that joy and welcome given to strangers was the gospel being played out. There is something in all of us...something that is not of us and it is God’s work to restore chaos in a broken world. Out of this chaos is a redemption that can be felt in the smiles, the dances, the hugs, the claps of even those who don’t even know the same language as us…and even in the car chases by children so excited to see someone different from them…there is a hint..a whisper of God’s grace, goodness, generosity, and joy that is real and that being in this world we have the privilege to share with others.
You can support the women and families seen in these photographs and other Rwandan artisans by visiting the link below:
And if you're ever in or near Rwanda, go visit Azizi Life and spend a day in the life of these people. You'll be changed forever.
" After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” Revelation 7:9-10
Thanks for stopping by,