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Up Close & Indego

#new, #inspiration, #handmade, #impact

Our Blog

Domitille

#artisans, #inspiring

In honor of remembrance, progress, and hope we will be featuring special posts about our artisan partners throughout the month of April. We invite you to share in their stories.

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Domitille’s laugh can be heard cascading over the hills and echoing through the trees that surround the Hope cooperative, the knitting association of which she is the president. A graceful and self-assured woman, her vibrant smile is nothing short of contagious and her positive energy radiates throughout every room she enters.

While today Domitille is a pillar of confidence and strength, she was not always this way. In fact, her journey to get here was arduous and beset with significant obstacles to overcome.

Only a few years ago, Domitille’s economic circumstances were dire: her family lacked permanent housing, often went hungry, and owned just one piece of clothing each. Her husband was violent and beat her daily, forbidding her to leave the house without his permission, and isolating her from the other women in her community.

However, when her cooperative began partnering with Indego Africa in 2010, her income started to increase. She soon found herself able to buy a house with electricity, feed and clothe her family, send her son to school, and even set aside enough money to invest in a new business of her own.

In her words: “my life really and fully changed . . . I am now a well-to-do woman, with middle income. I can eat what I want, wear what I want. I am confident, independent, and self-sufficient. I think back to what I was like only a few years ago and I do not recognize myself. And that is a good thing.”

Domitille’s economic success engendered newfound confidence and she began to think hopefully about her future. At home, she started to challenge her husband’s control over the household and to call the police whenever he tried to beat her.

Today, her husband’s abuse has stopped and Domitille has become an informal counselor to other women who suffer from domestic violence. She is a respected leader and a powerful role model to the women and girls in her community.

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20 Years Later |  A Message of Remembrance & Hope

#artisans, #community

Today the world recognizes the 20th commemoration of the Rwandan genocide, when over 800,000 people were killed over 100 days of unimaginable violence. Our hearts go out to the victims, their families, and all those who continue to grapple with the horrors that took place.

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As we pause and remember, we also want to send a message of hope—hope grounded in the remarkable and awe-inspiring progress Rwanda has made since the dark days of 20 years ago. We wish to commend our artisan partners who, through their resourcefulness, perseverance, and steadfast determination, have become engines of change in their communities and helped rebuild their country. We admire their courage and bravery, and share in their unwavering hope for even brighter futures to come.

Below are the inspiring words of Rosine Urujeni, Indego Africa’s Country Director, reflecting on what the 20thcommemoration of the genocide means to her:

"It is a time to remember our loved ones (kwibuka) that we never knew or hardly knew because they were taken from us abruptly and for no reason. It is a time to reflect on what is wrong and what is right; what our actions and words mean to others; and what impact we have on our community and country. 

As Albert Einstein said 'We cannot despair of humanity since we ourselves are human beings.' It is a time to remember that we are the masters of our lives and that our actions will last forever. We shall never forget to keep faith and to hope for forgiveness for those who committed acts of inhumanity.

The 20th commemoration of the genocide means that as human beings we must continue to work for the common good and to uplift ourselves and our communities. We shall never forget that as human beings, we must strive to do what is best not only for ourselves, but also for others.”

In honor of remembrance, progress, and hope we will be featuring special posts about our artisan partners for the rest of the month. We hope you’ll continue to check back here and share in their stories. 

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Staff Picks

#art, #africa

Sharing with you all the things we love - Staff pick by Brittany Barb – Branding Associate

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As a life-long lover of elephants, photography and a good coffee table book, I can’t get enough of Nick Brandt’s incredible collection, Across the Ravaged Land. It is the third in a trilogy of books depicting the disappearing animals of East Africa and its images of elephants are particularly beautiful (and heartbreaking).

Nick Brandt
Nick Brandt Photography
Nick Brandt Photography

Nick Brandt advocates against elephant poaching both through his powerful photography and his organization, the Big Life Foundation, which is dedicated to eradicating poaching activities in East Africa.

I promise this book will become a staple of your coffee table accoutrements. Speaking of accoutrements (and lovers-of-all-things-elephant) I can’t forget to mention Indego’s elephant pendant, my personal favorite, which I promise will also become a staple in your life!

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Inspiration from Rwanda

#artisans, #community, #weaving

Guest post by: Nicole Heim // There is something very special about an item that is handmade. Great care and quality goes into a product when a single craftsperson sees it from start to finish. When that same product also empowers a female artisan, you have a deeply meaningful end result.

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Upon arriving at Cocoki, the sewing cooperative where I’m training a group of five women, I found a large room of highly skilled artisans. While I may have been teaching Claire, Florence, Ngabire, Beata and Goretti a few skills they hadn’t already mastered, you wouldn’t have known it by watching. As I presented each new piece of information, they quickly digested and executed every step, thoroughly and thoughtfully. They collaboratively worked to measure, cut, and sew with special attention to detail, taking initiative when necessary, proving just how capable they are.

In addition to my time spent training at Cocoki, I’ve had the pleasure of traveling to various other cooperative partners of Indego Africa. Each group of artisans possesses their own set of skills, and every woman holds a unique spirit and smile. The walls and windows of each co-op provide a backdrop of inspiration through varying color, pattern and texture.

As the language barrier makes communication difficult, I love to observe the ladies at work. From the outside looking in, I see a family. The women enjoy each other’s company, and many bring their young children to work. As a toddler sits at a sewing machine or a baby sleeps strapped to her mother’s back, it seems clear that when you empower a woman you empower a generation.

Furthermore, the work of Indego Africa offers meaningful ways to empower that extend far beyond a needle and thread. In addition to having an access to income that allows the artisans to send their kids to school and provide for their families, they also receive invaluable education, which instills confidence and encourages them to be independent businesswomen.

I feel very fortunate to have witnessed these initiatives first hand, and to have met many of the female artisans who are being positively affected by them. When you make your next purchase, know that each handmade step was done with meticulous care, and that it’s truly impacting the life of a woman in Rwanda.

want more? check out Nicole’s beautiful blog

photos courtesy of Nicole Heim
photos courtesy of Nicole Heim
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