Odette is hired as one of the first ten women to work at the Rwandan enterprise, Handspun Hope, and on that very evening of this new beginning, gives birth to her daughter, Diana. Diana has grown up as the enterprise has grown, now with 122 women finding creative, sustaining work, new skills, safe harbor, and each other. In that is also the beginning of healing from the deep wounds of genocide.
Young Diana has never known poverty. She did not live through the horrific years of murderous war. She has never gone without food, or worried if her mother could afford her school fees. This is how the cycle of poverty can actually begin to cycle into something else altogether. Diana is the new face of Rwanda.
During the years of genocide, the craft of spinning by hand was completely lost in Rwanda. Handspun Hope came and reintroduced not only the spinning wheel, but the Merino sheep which provide beautiful wool. They introduced natural dyeing, and rekindled the art of knitting. So that a piece from this group has hands of hope all over it, each process moving forward a new cycle - not of poverty - but of creativity.
I met Diana Wiley, the woman who let this vision take hold of her, in New York last winter, along with Amy Brinkerhoff, who is overseeing this growing, now sustainable, fair trade venture. I fell for the simple naturally dyed wraps and the mustard colored cowls which add such splash. Now, just in time for cooler weather, they are arriving at Ibu! You already love their Rwandan gorillas, giraffes, and baby hats - now this simple luxury for yourself.
It's an idea. Breaking the cycle of poverty with a spinning wheel. With Odette and nine other women and a new baby named Diana. A true up-cycle in Rwanda. That's a story I want to wrap around me.
All the Best,
Susan Hull Walker