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Get Involved with Azizi Life & Help Rwanda

Updated on November 19, 2013

Azizi Life

Azizi Life connects Rwandan artisans with resources to develop their art, business, faith, and families, and to introduce these artisan partners and their work to the global market.

We love God. We love people. We love beauty. If you share any of these loves, we invite you to join us in celebrating craftsmanship and fair wages for Rwandan artisans. Our artisan partners are impacting their families and communities with love and wholeness, and we are excited to be a part of that!

Azizi Life's mission is "to participate in local initiatives for the development of Rwandan communities, working towards physical and spiritual wholeness for all."

Our Rwandan artisan partners have a vision: to use their art and the income it brings for the benefit of their families and communities. It is our privilege to work alongside these women and men, purchasing their art at a fair price, connecting them with resources for growth, and promoting them and their craft worldwide.

Meet the artisans, see their communities, and purchase their art at www.azizilife.com!

"Azizi" means "excellent," "precious," and "treasured," and we believe that every person's life is AZIZI.

We are a small group of Christians who love God and love people and are privileged to express that love through promoting social enterprise in Rwanda.

For more about us, visit: http://azizilife.com/about/our-purpose

A little taster of what Azizi Life is all about

Meet some of the wonderful artisans and see their communities. This is why we do what we do.

The word "Azizi" means "precious", "treasured", "excellent".

We celebrate the fact that every person's life is an azizi life!

Enjoy a glimpse of some of the azizi people who are at the heart of who we are.

Learn more at www.azizilife.com

Many thanks to the Rwandan band Impala for the use of their song, "Anonciata".

Thanks also to the Zamuka Cooperative for their introductory song.

Azizi Life Locations in Rwanda - We have volunteers around the world, but our head office remains in Rwanda.

Azizi Life's main office is just off the main road in Muhanga town (about a one hour drive west of Kigali) but we do now also have a boutique in Kigali, that sell the products made by our wonderful artisans partners.

Please do come visit if you are in Rwanda - you can check out the following website for opening times and up coming events http://azizilife.com/get-involved/boutique

A markerAzizi main office located in Muhanga Town -
3 Gitarama Gitarama Muhangaā€ˇ, Rwanda
get directions

Advocacy Pack
Advocacy Pack

home parties

become an azizi life advocate

Promote fair trade, expand horizons, and earn a bit of money as well!

We love the idea of passionate people in North America sharing stories and beautiful products from Rwanda, and we think that home parties are a great place to share both of these things!

Azizi Life Advocates work with home party hosts to gather groups of friends together. Azizi Life provides everything needed for Advocates to share about Rwanda and her artisans, and to facilitate sales. The artisans benefit with fair wage income, guests benefit with beautiful purchases and connections across the ocean, and Advocates benefit with the satisfaction of sharing beauty, plus 15% earnings from their sales. Check out other information and benefits below!

We would be honored to have you as part of our team.

As an Azizi Life Advocate, you are eligible for the following:

Over $300 worth of Rwandan treasures for only $125 through our Advocate Home Party Starter Pack!

15% earnings from all sales at your home parties.

100% reimbursement on your Starter Pack if your sales reach $500 within the first 90 days of your receiving it.

$50 Azizi Life gift certificate for every Advocate you recruit.

Up to a 30% Advocate discount on all web purchases and 10% off all personal catalog purchases.

Free shipping for all of your personal purchases.

Insider Azizi Life updates and product launches.

A fun way to educate friends and family about Rwanda, how our products are made, and the artisans who make them.

Fundraising in Rwanda
Fundraising in Rwanda

host a bazaar

fund-raising opportunity

Let our artisans help to support your cause!

Hosting a Bazaar of fairtrade Rwandan art is the perfect way for you to raise funds for your church, school, youth group, club, or cause of your choice. Your sale of a Bazaar Package will double your money, in addition to raising awareness for your project and supporting a fair wage for the Rwandan artists- win, win, win!

how it works:

We have designed packages which contain a variety of handcrafted Rwandan art, much like what you see here. We offer two standard sizes- one that you can buy for $500 and sell for $1000, and another that you can buy for $1000 and sell for $2000. Your customers can shop at special bazaar prices (a 20% - 27% discount from our regular retail prices) AND the sale of all of your art should double your money! Custom-size bazaar packages are also available- just ask.

You email us at info@azizilife.com with your name, address, and which package you'd like, and we ship your box from our warehouse in Washington, straight to your door. Shipping is only $40! (We recommend ordering 4 weeks ahead of your planned event.) We'll then send you an email with an invoice and directions on how to pay by check or electronic transfer to our bank account in Pennsylvania.

Voila! You have a variety of beautiful and functional crafts, as well as tips and tools for promoting and hosting a great bazaar!

You advertise your fundraising event to friends, family and the local community.

You host a wonderful event, increasing awareness and generating funds for your project!

Interested then check out the website for more details http://azizilife.com/get-involved/host-a-bazaar

Azizi Life Experiences - local artisans invite you to join their family for a day

Spend a day in a Rwandan household:

Join in with agricultural activities.

Share a midday meal.

Learn to weave an Azizi Life product.

Azizi Life experiences are hosted by three Azizi Life artisan groups based in rural communities in the beautiful countryside of Muhanga District. The communities are a few kilometres along dirt roads from the town of Muhanga (previously called Gitarama). Muhanga is an hour's drive from Kigali, on a paved road.

The groups are the Abarikumwe Association, the Kanguka Association, and the Ingobokarugo Cooperative. Each group meets every week to weave together and as the women weave they talk, sharing their news and supporting and encouraging each other.

The women take it in turn to host small groups of visitors in their home. You will spend the day in the company of your host, her family, and other artisans from the group. Some of the women will invite you to work with them in their fields, or other activities suited to the season and the weather, while others prepare a midday meal for everyone. Usually, in the afternoons, all the artisans get together with the visitors to weave. They laugh often as they work, and invite you to join in the pleasure they take in life.

The women and their families understand that you want to find out more about life in rural Rwanda and they may also ask you about life in your home country. An Azizi Life translator will accompany you so language needn't be a barrier to connecting with your hosts.

for more information check out http://azizilife.com/get-involved/experiences

or check out the latest Trip Advisor reviews at: http://ow.ly/cdgbP

volunteer - opportunities in Rwanda

If you are passionate about art or business, or more importantly if you are passionate about helping the rural communities of Rwanda, then we could use your help!

If you are able to volunteer for a longer period of time (from 3 months to a year), why not consider coming and joining us here in Rwanda?

We could use your help in a wide range of different areas including product design & development, packaging design, photography, financial planning & accounting, sales & marketing, advertising, graphic design, field research and reporting, or logistical support and distribution. There really is no limit to the ways in which you could be involved.

Although you would be responsible for covering your own costs, we could provide you with an exciting internship or volunteering position that would challenge you, giving you experience of working in a different culture and totally different environment.

For more information please email us at info@azizilife.com

raising cultural understanding - a book recommendation from Azizi Life's founder

If you do get the chance to come out to Rwanda, or any African country for that matter, it is helpful to get an understanding of the culture before you arrive.

In my experience, one of the things that people from Europe or North America really struggle to comes to terms with is the local populations requests for financial help. One book I found very helpful in understanding some of the culture behind these requests is called 'African Friends & Money Matters'

This book talks about the different economic systems in Africa and compares them to those used in Europe or North America (but in a very easy to understand way). It does not say one system is better than the other, or try to encourage people to change their own views, but it does help you to see finances from a different perspective. Which I found amazingly helpful.

- Tom MacGregor, Founder, Azizi Life

prayer

the very cornerstone of everything we do

It is only through God's help that we will truly experience his work of development around us.

As you think of Azizi Life, please pray with us for:

love & good communication in relationships.

creativity in design.

wisdom in business practices.

open doors & great ideas for the resolution of logistical challenges.

innovation, unity, & wellness for the artisans and their families.

connections with passionate and like-minded people worldwide.

keeping informed

Each month, we create a 'prayer letter' to provide you with some guidance on the kind of issues that Rwanda, Azizi Life, our artisans and their communities are facing.

If you would like these monthly updates emailed directly to you, please contact us at info@azizilife.com, or check them out at: http://azizilife.com/get-involved/pray

Thank you so much for praying with us!

God is at work, and answering our prayers.

The great aid or trade debate

So the question on my mind for this little debate is whether or not it is right to continue to provide those in need with aid or whether we should simply let the markets become truly free and see what happens.

Even though at Azizi Life we do focus on providing people with the opportunity to trade and support themselves, I must admit, I am not sure that just trade can answer all the problems of the World. But I am open to being convinced.

Can free markets and trade truly bring an end to poverty?

We are available to answer any questions you may have about Azizi Life, our artisans, or your products- or anything else that is on your mind. We also invite your suggestions, corrections, and ideas.

So don't be shy, go ahead comment below.

Also, are you our friend on Facebook?? Check out the Azizi Life page https://www.facebook.com/azizilife

we would love to hear from you - ask us anything!

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    • tom-macgregor profile image
      Author

      tom-macgregor 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks Dave. I must admit I feel like the luckiest man in the world to be privileged enough to live out in Rwanda and work with some amazing people.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hi, Tom! Sounds like you are having a great experience working with the people of Rwanda. Thanks for sharing this lens with us.

    • tom-macgregor profile image
      Author

      tom-macgregor 5 years ago

      @kimmanleyort: Thanks for your thoughts. We always try to ensure what we do is in the best interest of the producers and the communities where we are working.

      Pricing has been a tricky thing for us. We try and pay the artists as much as we can, taking into account that we do not want to encourage people to stop being school teachers to make crafts instead. Also we want to keep as many artists working as possible and so we try and set our pricing to encourage this and by working with US retailers & wholesalers who buy in much larger quantities than we can sell direct.

      As Rwanda is land locked and our artists live in relatively remote areas the logistical costs are high, plus the shops in the US (even the fairtrade ones) like to at least double what they pay for products which all means our web prices have to be higher (so as not to undercut the shops who cary our products). So the the artist earns a large percentage of the wholesale price but a smaller percentage of the price we sell on our website. However the artist do all receive a wage well above what they could otherwise get (we aim for at least double what they would earn for a days work of manual labour).

      All the 'non-Rwandan' workers (like myself) are volunteers and so do not get paid and if Azizi Life does ever make any money then it all goes back into growing the program, training the artisans or community projects.

      But as a relatively young organisation we are always learning and we are constantly trying to review the pricing and our work to make sure that we truly are helping and not hindering the people of Rwanda.

      Thanks again for taking an interest in our work. I hope to put more Rwanda related lens up soon. I really want to get some stories about the artists who we work with, because the really are amazing people.

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 5 years ago

      Hi, thanks for your comment on my responsible purchasing lens. I totally relate to your concerns about whether promoting consumerism is the right thing to do, yet at the same time wanting to help the people of Rwanda grow their businesses.

      I don't like to promote consumerism for the sake of consumption. I am all for meeting needs and encouraging art-making, especially if the products are produced in a responsible manner, i.e. materials used, impact on the earth, fair wages and working conditions, etc.

      I like Azizi's mission - "to participate in local initiatives for the development of Rwandan communities, working towards physical and spiritual wholeness for all." If this is always kept front and center, I would say you are doing okay.

      My question would be whether the wages are fair all around. Are the artisans getting a proportionate share of the sales?

      Keep up the great work on Squidoo and Rwanda!