Monday, April 13, 2009

What to do with an abundance of bags?

Nyassa shows Fatuma and Therese how to weave bags.

I've visited the women at Victoria Center several times a week now for a month. In that time, we've discussed a number of hot topics, such as birth control and emergency medical care (yes, they are getting both), microlending, and men. They elected two new members to their governing committee and rented the small room next door to use as a store for the children's clothes they make.

Rosette, Marceline and Silvie pose with their sewing machines at Victoria Center

All this has been made possible by contributions from generous friends and family. Thank you! I was also able to provide all 20 women with a $50 microloan-- not so much money, but enough to start a small business.

Fatuma and Alise work together sorting thread.

When I arrived, they presented me with a bag they'd woven from plastic thread, a brightly striped, handy carry-all that I've used every day since to lug all my stuff--cameras, shawl, water bottle, snacks, and writing tablet. It's come in handy.

The bag that started it all.

Thinking what great beach bags and shopping totes they would make, I told the women I would buy all the bags they could make in 10 days. Because hand-weaving these bags is a difficult, time-consuming job, I imagined they would make one or two each.

Nyassa weaves another bag (she wove six!).

Silly me! These women were on a mission! Working night and day they hand-wove a total of 75 bags! All sizes, colors, with different weaves, like a rainbow!

The women were very happy that I bought all their bags!

That says alot about how motivated they are and how hard they work when given the opportunity. I am impressed, not to mention the proud owner of 75 bags!

So the question now is, How do I get them home?

With love and gratitude,

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