Two friends of mine from Rhode Island traveled to Bukavu in mid-April and stayed for 2 weeks. Their purpose in coming was to benefit Ushindi Center by making 100 dolls for sale at Waldorf schools in the US. . . and to see the gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega Park, both big goals which they accomplished with aplomb!
While Betty greeted the Ushindi women, Margaret lent a hand fixing the soap cutting table.
The women, both Congolese and American, took time that day to get to know each other.
Margaret learned she couldn't lift with two hands the pan of avocados and bananas that Juliene carries on her head every day to market,
but she found consolation holding baby Victoria.
Then they got to work explaining the project to the Ushindi women. The intention was to cut, sew and assemble 100 dolls in the two weeks the Americans would be in Bukavu. Then we would pack the dolls back with us to sell at Waldorf schools in Rhode Island, where Betty and Margaret are both involved with Waldorf schools.
Here Betty explains the project while Bonaventura Muzigiri translates English into the local language, Mashi. Bony became indispensible to the project, not only intrepreting but cutting fabric, holding baby Victoria, and writing in beautiful calligraphic script each woman's name on the doll's tags.
Betty, Margaret and I had all brought huge suitcases crammed with materials to make the dolls-- 8 colors of flannel, thread, needles, pins, material for the heads, and bundles of stuffing. It was an ambitious project, but the Ushindi women had been honing their sewing skills making practice dolls. None of us were sure we could do it, but we were all willing to give it a try!
PS Margaret was finally able to lift the bananas on top of her head, but there was no way she could balance them!
With love and gratitude,