Rwanda One4One 2013
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In June 2013, I traveled to Rwanda to work with a cooperative of 35 women, from very vulnerable life situations. The goal was to increase their natural dye knowledge and color palette for their yarn, Handspun Hope. They were already using eucalyptus, coreopsis and other bio-regional dyestuffs. Madder root, cochineal bugs, weld flower, indigo, woad seeds and locally-sourced onion skins were introduced during the week.
Finding more ways for the women to create natural colors on their yarns using dye plants they could grow themselves would offer them a sustainable and regional dye source. Of course, some dyes need to be obtained globally, such as indigo and cochineal. It is imperative for the women to work to support themselves and their families through learned skills they can continue with in the absence of outside help and to keep production costs to a minimum.
The visit was so rewarding regarding the ladies quick learning and the stunning colors they achieved. Yet even deeper was the gift of kindness they shared. I was welcomed into the center with open arms and hearts. They were eager to teach their language, songs and dances. They imbued the gift of hope, love, and thankfulness.
Since May 2013, Handspun Hope is now producing large quantities of handspun, naturally dyed yarns and has secured a commercial buyer in the US for finished products such as gloves, scarves and hats. The initial donation of time, training and pounds of natural dyes has sewn its seeds. For that I am eternally thankful. Mission accomplished!