Rwanda is a landlocked, resource-poor country based in central/eastern Africa. With a population of about 12 million, Rwanda is the most densely populated country in Africa. Women in Rwanda are especially vulnerable when it comes to education. After the genocide in 1994, 80% of the population, predominantly women, were left under the poverty line. Empowering women became an important issue throughout the country.
While volunteering in Musanze, July of 2007, Jeanne Siporin and Laura Boyea met two teenage girls in a small village who were not able to attend school. They made a promise to return the following year to help these girls. In August of 2008 a sewing machine was purchased locally and the two girls were taught to sew basic items and the Ubushobozi project was born.
Over the next few years more students were added to the project. The students would come each day from their villages to the Ubushobozi house in Musanze, where they learned sewing and English. Eventually a computer teacher and dance instructor were added to the project. The girls showed interest in learning to weave, so a weaving teacher was added as well. Yoga was something the girls had heard about, as they were sewing yoga mat bags. Due to their interest they were trained in yoga by a volunteer from New York.
Weaving, a traditional skill has been enthusiastically adopted by our women. Beautiful products abound.
Now the girls earn their living by crafting beautiful baskets, backpacks, yoga bags and other items using their weaving and sewing skills at the Ubushobozi Shop in Musanze, Rwanda. All Ubushobozi sales go directly to the women of the project. Most of their income is generated from the sale of products they make which are sold in their shop in Musanze, online or at craft shows in the U.S.
The women have formed the Ubushobozi Cooperative which now provides them with a salary and health insurance for them and their families.