As many of you know, we proudly support True Vineyard Ministries’ mission of providing economic based and sustainable solutions to see poverty diminished in the lives of marginalized Rwandan women living post-genocide. On today’s blog, the executive director of the foundation, Diana Wiley, shares stories, photos, and even a video from her recent trip to the region. We hope it inspires you to give back in your own special way!
The Handspun Hope initiative focuses on widows and abandoned women who are living post-genocide in Northern Rwanda; the women learn to spin wool of fleeces produced from their own flock of Merino sheep, creating beautiful yarn which is then dyed organically utilizing local plants. The yarn and their products are then marketed to social business partners; Indego Africa is the newest partner for Handspun Hope and the first to promote the finished products created by the women of True Vineyard.
The women are also provided with literacy training and healthcare for themselves and their children. Group and individual counseling from staff counselors is available to help them heal from their traumatic pasts. Additionally, the women collectively participate in a savings cooperative and have the opportunity to apply for microfinance loans for individual businesses. The ministry also covers school fees and related expenses for all school-aged children under the care of the women.
This past July, our stateside team traveled to Rwanda to work with the women of True Vineyard as they have continued transitioning from drop spindles to spinning wheels donated by The Woolery. Several of the newest women had not had the opportunity to use a wheel before the new ones were delivered. They were ecstatic to learn a new and much faster way of creating their beautiful yarn. – but especially thrilled to have their very own wheels! Names were quickly written on the new wheels to stake their claims; in the video below you can see them spinning away on their new wheels:
As the ladies continue to improve and strive to learn new skills, the team works with those who can knit and crochet to develop new products. The ladies who have the greatest natural abilities are taught new patterns, allowing them to then work with the others to teach these new skills. While there never seems to be enough time, this seems to be the most effective method for sharing these skills.
Throughout 2015, True Vineyard continued to build a new work center for the women; this new center is built on land purchased in 2008, and it is complete with washing and dyeing stations, with the capacity to serve even more marginalized women. Located in a government-established community, it is designed for widows and orphan-headed households. The goal is to benefit more women by providing steady employment in this facility.
We greatly value the continued support provided by our partners at The Woolery as we seek to eradicate poverty for marginalized women in Northern Rwanda; to learn more, please visit us at www.truevineyard.org.