The ladies chosen for our pilot project are now into their 6th week together learning the art of traditional piecing and quilting. All eight women are experienced seamstresses already, and some of them have their own businesses either in dress-making or crafts. The idea behind this class is to bring higher value to what they are able to produce, thereby increasing their business potential. We are meeting four days a week and the women are enthusiastic about what they are learning, some arriving early in the day for extra time in making their quilt blocks.
After about the second week, one woman began taking the simple designs home to the tailors who work for her with the idea of producing and selling them right away. Now I think they all understand that these are just the basics we are learning, so that they will have the skills to design something on their own which will be unique and Rwandan in flavor. I call it, American traditional quilts meet beautiful African fabrics. We will use African fabrics to make beautiful wall hangings and other crafts.
Time is set aside every day for sharing what is going on in our lives and reading the Bible and praying together. The group is assisting each other as needs arise and great friendships are being formed around these sewing machines.
Eventually we would like to help with establishing wider markets, since the tourist and local market here is not very extensive. We believe with high quality workmanship and attractive designs, we can make a difference. One of the ladies who manages two crafts shops in town was recently heard saying, “I’m soon going to be covering Kigali with quilts!”