This time of year we gather our families and friends and give gifts to show our love, appreciation and gratitude. Our family likes to remember each year on our tree by buying an ornament with a story. I cannot tell you how grateful we were to receive a Rwanda Path of Peace gold basket ornament from Macy’s, so that I can share its story with you. What if your family was able to buy an ornament for your tree or give a gift that did even more than that? What if you gave a gift that kept on giving? The Rwanda Path to Peace product line sold at Macys.com offers sustainable income to Rwandan basket weavers by allowing them to support their families with dignity and purpose.
When you look at the gorgeous hand-woven products sold in Macys.com stores as part of the Rwanda Path to Peace program, it’s easy to see them solely as objects of beauty, but in fact, each basket represents a journey towards reconciliation for the women who made them.In 1994, nearly a million Rwandans – 20% of the nation’s population – were massacred when tribal hatred between the Hutus and Tutsis turned into ethnic slaughter. It is one of the worst genocides in human history, and films like Hotel Rwanda just give you a glimpse into its history. After the violence ended, many Rwandan women found themselves thrust into the unfamiliar role of being the sole breadwinner for their families, since their husbands, fathers and sons had been killed.
Now more than twenty years later, Rwanda is a country of both hope and faith. Many women embraced an opportunity to heal. Weaving baskets became a way forward and a path toward peace. Women from both sides of the ethnic divide came together, wove baskets, and created an industry, which today supports thousands of Rwandan women and their families. One American woman helped the Rwandan women – social entrepreneur, artist, and activist, Willa Shalit. In 2005, Shalit showed the baskets to executives at Macy’s who committed to sell them and to go into business with the weavers in Rwanda. Macy’s offered them a hand up, not a handout.
HOW AWESOME IS THIS STORY?! It was a joy opening up the ornament and telling the family what the ornament symbolizes: hope, perseverance, creativity and peace. As a family, we believe in paying it forward by how we use our time and our resources. This Christmas season, purchase a gift for you and someone you love that makes a difference. Buying products like Macy’s Rwanda Path to Peace that give hope and employment to women is a way to make sure your hard-earned dollars are making a difference. See the 10-year history of the program.
I was gifted a product from the Macy’s Rwanda Path to Peace line, however all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.