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Artisan Stories

Updated on September 17, 2014

Meet Some Wonderful People

Since living in Rwanda, I have met some fascinating people with some amazing stories.

I wanted to use Squidoo to introduce you to a few of these people, and simply share with you something of their lives and their remarkable achievements. My guess is that outside of their own communities many of the events of these wonderful people's lives would go unrecorded, which would be a terrible shame. So I plan, with the permission of each person featured, to give you a little glimpse into their lives.

So I invite you to join us on this little journey of discovery - I am sure you will enjoy it!

Using Baskets to Reconcile a Country

Pascasie - a truly amazing woman

Pascasie is now the president of Agaseke K'Amahoro (one of the artisan groups Azizi Life works with). Back in 1994, the majority of Pascasie's family members were murdered, most likely by their own neighbours. Despite this, Pascaise is determined to be a different type of neighbour as she chooses to stand for peace (in fact the Rwandan word for peace is in the very name of the cooperative she runs). Under her leadership, community members from opposite sides of the 1994 Genocide have joined together to support one another in their art and their lives. Pascaise's desire to see her community rebuilt goes even further than this as she has actually gone into the local prison to teach perpetrators of the genocide how to weave, so that in the future they will have a way to support their own families. Although Pasacise is a most remarkable woman, surprisingly her story is not uncommon here in Rwanda, as many remarkable and forgiving people have come together to rebuild this country.

Alphonsine - Taking control of life and making a better future for her family

Martin

Off the streets and helping others

During the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Martin's family was killed, leaving him responsible for his 4 brothers and sisters. Life was hard and the responsibilities became too much for him, and so Martin left his village to go and find work in the capital city, Kigali. However, city life did not turn out as he planned, and after some time on the streets he returned home - determined to turn his life around. Martin desperately tried to earn enough money to feed himself and his siblings by carrying bags for the others in the village, but no matter how hard he worked there never seemed to be enough money.

One day a charitable organisation came by offering places in a craft school to learn how to make banana leaf cards. Martin grabbed this opportunity with both hands. He studied hard and quickly learnt his craft, becoming a skilled artisan, able to make beautiful cards that he sold to increase his income.

Not satisfied to simply help himself and his family, Martin found other young people who were struggling like he had been and taught them this new skill too. He joined with his students and they formed into an association, called Twisugnane "Let's Be Together" Association. Martin then searched out new markets where the group could sell their work. Together, these eleven young adults are now using their fair trade income to make a real difference for the siblings and elders in their care. The families grow banana trees in their yards, dining on the cooked bananas and using the banana leaves to craft specialty cards.

It truly is amazing that a banana tree and a determined young man can make such an impact in the lives of so many.

Books on Remarkable Peoples' Lives

Its not just the people that I come across here in Rwanda that have remarkable lives. Below is a selection of books that looks at the really quite remarkable lives of quite ordinary people.

But, I would challenge you not to simply read about these things but to look around you in your neighbourhood - just next door could be a person with the most remarkable story just waiting to be told.

In general, people really are amazing - lets take time to get to know them.

Feel free to mention your own remarkable people here, or just let us know what you think of thoseI have featured.

I hope to feature stories of more remarkable people in the future and so please do check back.

Many thanks,

Tom

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