Founded in 2006 by Bono and Bobby Shriver, (RED) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to make it easy for people and businesses to join the fight against HIV/AIDS. As part of (RED)’s Holiday Shopathon, Indego has made a contribution to (RED)’s efforts, which will go directly towards funding HIV/AIDS programs in Africa. We’ve also turned some of our favorite holiday products “(RED)”! See what we mean here.
We are so excited to team up with this organization which is making a powerful difference in the lives of people and families affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa. In light of this partnership, and World Aids Day, we wanted to share more about the work that Indego has done over the years to support women in Rwanda who live with this disease.
HIV/AIDS has a unique history in Rwanda, where rape by known HIV/AIDS positive men was used as a weapon of war in the 1994 genocide. Amnesty International estimates that at least 250,000 women were raped during the genocide, though the number is most likely even higher.
Today, women who survived live with the devastating aftereffects of this violence, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and, for those who were infected, HIV/AIDS.
To bring awareness to these women and their experiences, we interviewed four of our partners affected by HIV/AIDS who work at the Abasangiye Cooperative in Kayonza, Rwanda: Esther, Gaudance, Uwamaliya, and Laurence.
Abasangiye began as a therapy group for women who survived rape during the genocide. In 2010, we began partnering with the women of Abasangiye to help them learn how to sew, form a cooperative, and earn income.
However, before this partnership began, many of these women were living in extreme poverty, and struggling every day to manage their illness, as well as the feelings of helplessness and despair that came with it.
As one of our partners, Esther, said: “Before working with Indego Africa, my life was bad. I was alone and sorrow was my only friend.”
Partnering with Indego Africa has helped women like Esther find solace and purpose in their every day lives by working, earning income, receiving education, and supporting their families.As our partner, Gaudance said:
“My parents died in the genocide, and when I found out I was infected, it felt like it was the end of the world. I kept my results secret because I didn’t think I could talk to anyone about it. At that point, I couldn’t even afford food to support myself. But once I met Indego and began to make products and earn income, my life started to change, and I began to feel strong.”
Many of our partners report that access to work opportunities and economic empowerment has helped them overcome some of the mental health challenges they once faced as a result of their diagnosis. Gaudance shared:
“I used to have negative thoughts every day. But since joining a co-op and working with Indego Africa, my mental health has changed. I now feel better about myself and more hopeful for my future. Indego Africa has become my second medication.”
Further, our partners find the experience of working together with other women at their cooperatives to be deeply therapeutic. It provides them with opportunities to discuss their lives and challenges and build support systems with their peers.
As Uwamaliya described:
“I used to isolate myself because I was ashamed. Coming together to work with other women and share our experiences made me realize I wasn’t alone, and I started to heal.”
We are so inspired by the transformations that the women of Abasangiye have experienced through access to opportunity and, in turn, to hope. While their lives may not be easy, they are able to live each day filled with more happiness, confidence, and and positivity than they once ever imagined.
Abasangiye member, Laurence, said:
“Before working with Indego Africa, I had no other thoughts except HIV/AIDS. I couldn’t think about my future. But now, I always set goals for myself at the start of a new year. The time that I once had to think about HIV/AIDS and death has been replaced by thinking about what I can do for my future. I have hope and I know my future will be bright.”
“What makes me happy is to see myself alive and working and to know that I have helped people in their lives when I could. My sister is now at university, and she got there because of my help. Whenever I have a chance to work, no matter how small an order may be, it brings me joy.”
We are thrilled to partner with (RED) to help fight HIV/AIDS in Africa and to support women in Rwanda, as well as in Ghana, as they create brighter futures for themselves and those around them.
As Laurence said: “I look forward to seeing my children become future leaders and to help improve life in my community.”
To shop our (RED) collection, and make an impact on the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS, click here.