Long time Same Sky supporter, Kelsey Stern Buchbinder, visits our artisans in Rwanda:
Having worked closely with the Same Sky team for many years now, I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to meet the wonderful women they employ in action. Walking into the AVEGA center where the Same Sky women work together handcrafting the beautiful products we are all familiar with, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Several women sat around a table, talking and joking while they crocheted bright seed beads into fashionable prosperity bracelets. I took my seat on the outskirts of the group and watched for a couple of minutes. Soon, one of the women motioned for me to join her and I wedged my way in between two Same Sky employees. They showed me the way they delicately weaved the string to create each piece of art to be sold a world away.
It was admittedly difficult for us to converse. Clementine, one of the Same Sky artisans attempted to engage me with her limited knowledge of English. Despite our language barrier, it was apparent what a gift Same Sky was for them. Much more than employment, these women had fostered a strong bond, a community, through which the artisans supported each other in times of need and offered advice to one another on the daily troubles life brought. Much like the community of dedicated men and women Same Sky has created in the United States, it was about more than the bracelets.
About half way through my visit, one woman got up to leave. She looked troubled and upset. The woman to her left caught her attention and the two exchanged a few words in Kinyarwanda. Moments later the room exploded with laughter. The women exchanged knowing glances, the first woman’s solemn furrowed brow was replaced with a toothy grin. It was in this moment that I understood the message of Same Sky, connecting people and fostering growth through opportunity. At this point I had been in Rwanda for nearly a week, I had visited several charitable organizations with messages of hope and change, they offered aid or employment but none of them achieved what this collective had. There was an undeniable sense of community and support here. I felt proud to be a part of something so amazing.
It’s not often that we are able to experience something that changes lives in a real way. Same Sky does this by offering the world a product just as beautiful as its message. It was unbelievable to meet these women, the people that Same Sky has enabled each and every one of us to impact from half way across the world, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for this innovative organization.
-Kelsey Stern BuchbinderFiled under TRUNK SHOWS | Comments: 0