Disclosure: I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere provided me with a complimentary Rwanda Path to Peace basket. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.
This holiday season my family has so much to be thankful for. Our health, wisdom, the necessities – most importantly, we have each other. Thanksgiving to us isn’t about the holiday that we’re taught in grade school. To us, it’s about quality time together, spending the day enjoying good food and each others company. Of course, I’m usually cooking for days and a total stress case, but this year I vow to have a simpler approach. To slow down and savor the moments with my family. The older kids are growing up so fast, I want to enjoy our special day and what it’s truly about.
Family. Love. Gratefulness.
|Every hand woven basket comes with a Certificate of Authenticity|
In 2002 Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), visited Rwanda and was struck by the beauty of the traditional woven baskets. Moved by the pride and strength of the weavers, she reached out to American businesswoman, and UNIFEM supporter, Willa Shalit in hopes of developing a market for Rwandan basketwork. After UNIFEM made initial contacts with the Rwandan Government and the association of genocide widows, Willa began working with weavers in Rwanda and partners in America. Three years later, she founded the Rwanda Path to Peace project in partnership with Macy’s.
A global market was established for these unique works of art, and in September 2005 Macy’s introduced the very first Path to Peace Baskets. The modest collection, only available online at macys.com and in Macy’s flagship Herald Square store, included every basket the weavers could produce over the course of the year.
Though relatively small, the 2005 collection was met with an enthusiastic response, quickly selling out online and gaining national media attention. The sale of the baskets provided real, sustainable income to rural women who had never before earned money in their lives.
Today, the Path to Peace project is larger than ever, employing thousands of weavers and impacting tens of thousands of lives. The impact of the income-generating work the project creates
Focused on trade, not aid, the Rwanda Path to Peace project puts the power of opportunity into the hands of the women of Rwanda, providing not only income but the chance to take an active role in the shaping of their future.
I’m so inspired by these amazing women that have been able to help their families and communities by weaving these beautiful baskets. It’s a labor of love, and it’s so unreal to see the baskets in person. They are gorgeous and unique, and to know they are handcrafted allows you to appreciate every detail.
This Thanksgiving I will have both of my Rwanda Path to Peace baskets out. I’ll serve bread in one and have crayons and paper in the other for the kids to have fun with during the long day. Our guests will surely ask about these gorgeous baskets and it’s an opportunity to share with them the history of the baskets and the work that goes into them. I think it’s a perfect position for my basket, to share with our families what hard work can accomplish and a way to be grateful for the very simplest things that we often take for granted. Eventually, I’d like to designate a space on the wall for these treasures, as they are also works of art.