More than Simply Business
Azizi Life is committed to paying an agreed-upon fair wage to the artisans as soon as we receive their products. The additional income from the sale of their art allows the craftspeople & their families to afford many things that they struggled to get before:
- Medical insurance – improving health
- School materials for their children – improving education
- Soap and other cleaning products – improving hygiene
- A more balanced diet – improving nutrition
- Farm animals that multiply for income and provide manure – improving resources, soil quality and crop yield
- Financial independence- improving relationships with spouses and neighbors
Having the money available to invest in these kinds of things provides a real sense of security and hope for the future for the artisan and her whole family.
It is surprising just how much a community of people can benefit when they join together regularly with a common purpose.
Many of the women with whom we are working have told us how isolated they felt before they joined an art cooperative. Now as they meet with others regularly, they have the opportunity to discuss their problems and provide support for each other. As the ladies sit together to weave or do some other artistic endeavor, they use the time to talk about all manner of things, from best farming practices to child rearing. It is a time when they are able to find mutual support and friendship which previously they did not have time for, as they worked full time in the fields and in their homes.
In one community, this level of closeness is used to even bring reconciliation between the victims and perpetrators of the tragic events of 1994 (the Rwandan Genocide). Pascasie Mukabuligo is the president of the Agaseke K’Amahoro Association. In 1994, most of her family members were murdered, most likely by their own neighbours. In the face of her tremendous loss, Pascasie has chosen to promote peace. Under her leadership, community members from opposite sides of the 1994 conflict have joined together to support one another in their art and their lives. Pascasie’s desire to see her community rebuilt goes even further than this, as she has actually gone into the local prisons to teach the offenders how to weave, so that in the future they will have a way to support their own families.
It is amazing to see Community development at its most fundamental level as people come together, work together and grow together.
The women and men with whom we work have a vision. They have skills, they have determination, and they have chosen to come together for the sake of their art and their livelihood. It is our privilege to come alongside these independent artisan groups and support them in their own initiatives for the development of their lives, families, communities, and nation.