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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Beautiful Baskets that Make a Difference

I was reading the news this morning and came across a story inspiring on so many levels that I wanted to share it with all of you. These beautiful baskets are made in a country that is in a process of reconciliation and healing. It's citizens are learning to forgive, forget and move forward for the benefit of everyone.

These women are survivors of the genocide that took place in Rawanda back in 1994. Even though the victims were killed by the militia, their friends and neighbors, the survivors are now in a process of forgiveness and acceptance.

The victims: How to forgive those who in one hundred days, attacked and brutally killed somewhere around one million of their families, friends, and countrymen. Many of the survivors suffered losses, were attacked and maimed in ways unimaginable... So the act of forgiveness, especially of such magnitude, is one that probably defies comprehension for most of us.

The perpetrators: Have learned to ask for forgiveness from the survivors. Surprisingly many, not all, have found it within themselves to offer that forgiveness to heal themselves and their country.

Collectively they are creating peace.

Enter Noeleen Heyzer who helped to create the United Nations Development Fund for Women who in turn partnered with retail giant Macy's. Together they created an amazing opportunity for the women of Rawanda to not only rebuild their lives but is simultaneously helping the reconciliation process as those who were once torn apart by war are now becoming rejoined through entrepreneurship.

To those of us who live in the U.S., Rawanda might seem a world away. But now by purchasing a Path to Peace basket at Macy's we can help to encourage the process of peace and support a country that was overlooked and pushed aside in it's most desperate time of need.

Rawnda is setting an example that we can only hope, many other countries will someday follow.

For many of the women this is their first opportunity to earn money. And while the money the weavers earn, up to $14 a week, may not seem like much to us in the US, the article said that many people in Rawanda earn $1 per week. The program now employs thousands and impacts the lives of tens of thousands. So imagine for a moment the far reaching good the purchase of a single basket has on a country a world away.

I realize this topic isn't fun or flirty but it is so important that I wanted to include it here in my blog. If you don't know but want to learn more about what happened in Rawanda during the genocide, there is a HBO movie titled "Sometimes in April" that I rented from a video store. IMO It offers a wider perspective then the better known Hotel Rawanda.

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