Our Basket 2(78094)Rwanda Baskets – A Gift that Changes Lives

Christmas presents!  Everyone loves receiving presents and for many, giving presents is a joy too.  It’s great fun to watch the face of friends and family as they open up our presents.  This is true for me anyway.

This year my wife received a gift that, at first, was just another Our Basket(78093)nice gift.  My wife’s mother bought her a hand woven fruit basket.  We could tell immediately that the quality was very good.  The colors were vibrant and beautiful and the basket had substantial weight to it – as baskets go.  Not like the flimsy baskets carried by most stores.

Like we usually do with so many other gifts, we opened it up, admired it, and then put the basket aside and moved on to the next gift.  It wasn’t until later that day that I returned to the basket to take a closer look.  Attached to the inside was a card with the company’s logo.  The reverse side of the card had a picture of a lady along with her story.

Written on the card was this story.

My name is Ephigenia Nyirarekeraho.  I live in Kamusenyi village with my mother and my brother’s three children.  I am 47 years old and have been a widow since 1999.  My brother, his wife and my in-laws were all killed during the genocide in 1994.  I have three daughters who are in  school and I am also raising two orphans who are children of a relative who was killed during the genocide.  In addition to weaving I help take care of some cows and goats that belong to our family and I help farm our small plot of land which is not large enough to support the family.  I learned to weave when I was about 15 years old.  The money I make from selling my baskets helps me with the expenses of raising my children.  It enables me to pay for health insurance for them and myself and to pay for school fees and supplies for my children.  It also helps me to pay for other family needs.”

The Genocide – a brief history

It’s estimated that 800,000 people were murdered in 1994 during the genocide of Rwanda.  This mass killing took place over a period of only 100 days.  According to Human Rights Watch, the total killed could be as much as 20% of the entire country’s population.

Rwanda has a long history of ethnic tensions.  Since the 1950s, the Hutu have been responsible for the mass killing of Tutsi on several occasions.

In August, 1993 a peace agreement was reached and signed by President Habyarimana – a Hutu, and the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF).  The unrest in Rwanda didn’t stop.  In April of 1994, President Habyarimana’s was killed after his plane was shot down.  It has not been definitively determined who shot the plane down but the effect was immediate and deadly.   Within hours recruits were sent throughout the country to carry out the genocide and almost immediately the wholesale slaughter of Tutsis and even moderate Hutus began. 

The Tutsi aren’t without blame in the bloodshed.  After the cease fire in July, 1994 when the RPF captured the city of Kigali, over 2 million Hutus fled to Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo) and on two occasions the Tutsi-led government has invaded DR Congo and says that they want to wipe out the Hutu forces there.

Rwanda Partners – Fighting Poverty and Restoring Hope

From Rwanda Partners; website

“The vision for Rwanda Partners was formed in 2004 when Greg and Tracy Stone led a mission trip from their church in Seattle to Rwanda for the 10 year anniversary of the end of the genocide.

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On that trip, the Stones encountered poverty such as they had never seen before. They returned to the States committed to serving Rwanda’s poor by forming a non-profit organization called Rwanda Partners.

See the Video      Baskets of Hope

1994 – A year of tragedy and the beginning of hope

In 1994 Tracy Stone, along with her husband Greg started Rwanda Partners to help the poorest in Rwanda.  Since then, Rwanda Partners has become an international organization and now helps thousands to fight poverty and restore hope.