Janet Nkubana is the winner of the Hunger Project's "African Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger in 2008" and the founder Gahayna Links, a handicraft company built to bring women economic empowerment in Rwanda. Through Gahayna Links, she has partnered with Macy's for the Rwanda Path to Peace project. Here, she tells her story – from the Rwandan genocide to helping put back together the pieces of a traumatized country...
I’m Rwandan but I grew up in exile in a refugee camp in Uganda. And, while I was not in Rwanda during the genocide of 1994, for me, it was still 100 harrowing days – leaving 1 million people (20% of the population) slaughtered.
I returned to Rwanda with my sister after the genocide and started a group called Gahaya Links and began working with collectives of weavers in my country, trying to find vendors to buy our baskets. I had faith that through weaving baskets, the women who had lost all hope could both find comfort and maybe earn a little something to feed what families they had left.
So, when Macy’s first came to me it was the moment I believed anything I dream can become a reality.
In 2005, our first Macy’s order was for 300 baskets. Since then we have sold nearly 100,000! In the years since, we have built a training center to empower and educate the rural women of Rwanda in health, financial management, violence-prevention and gender equality.
Over the next few months, I will be sharing the stories of weavers, who through the sale of baskets at Macy’s have had an opportunity to change their lives via a sustainable income. I hope you’ll check into mBLOG again and again to hear their journeys.
Rwanda Path to Peace Collection is available in select Macy's stores and on macys.com