We got a fantastic overview of many of Africa New Life's programs during our time in Rwanda. I really connected with the women's programs that they have in place. Empowering women does so much to help children, families and even economies, and Africa New Life is doing this in several ways that we were privileged to witness.
We visited the Dream Center in Kigali that houses the Sewing Program and the Dream Beauty Academy.
The women warmly welcomed us with singing and dancing, and my eyes filled with tears at the joy. Most of these women have walked very hard roads starting in poverty, lacking education and resources and including family hardships. They are mothers - like me. They want to take care of their children, just as I do. But, they come from a much different place. Still - there was so much singing and dancing. It seems that Rwandans come into the world knowing the beats and melodies as their voices and bodies move together. It was a beautiful reminder to find joy in the good moments and allow that to inform and infuse the rest of life.
Several of them shared their heartbreaking journeys with us, but because of the Dream Center, they have hope and light and promise and are learning more about walking with the Lord. They are also learning real, valuable, marketable skills that can be parlayed into real jobs and businesses.
While these women are in class, there is a Dream Daycare for their children to attend. It was possibly one of the most precious places ever. The women working there clearly loved their jobs and the children.
As a mama to littles, I know exactly how valuable it is to know that your child is in a great place, and I am so thankful that they included this as part of the program.
There also happens to be a gift shop at the Dream Center where things that are made by graduates of the sewing program can be purchased. They did give us the option of purchasing fabric in the market and having custom designs made for us. Well. I don't think they realized quite what a response that would get from our group. We each had not one, but several, custom things in mind. 😳😁
We took two trips to the market just for fabric and ended up having fittings and alterations and the like during our week. We *might* have been a little high maintenance, but we justified this by knowing we were giving them great business and practice. It was a win for everyone! 🙌
I had a long, full skirt made out of that turquoise fabric, and I have all the good feels about it! 😍
Another program that I found exciting is the Women's Bakery. This is something that was started by two women who began their time in Rwanda in the Peace Corps. When they realized that Rwanda had very little bread - especially in the villages, they discovered that they could find ways to make bread using local, sustainable resources with nutrient dense-protein filled recipes. Also - the bread is delicious and beautiful!
(These 👆 are G-Nut cookies, and they are really quite good.)
The Women's Bakery developed a 150 hour curriculum that teaches everything from basic math and business to baking skills, and they are building their model to include ways for the women to be able to bake in the villages. Africa New Life is currently looking at ways to partner with them, especially in the communities that ANL already serves. It is exciting to dream about what could be, and as a double bonus, we totally filled up on carbs and coffee at this stop. 😍
So - if you have a heartbeat for empowering women - there are several great ways to get involved!