Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fair Trade pottery cooperatives in Rwanda

A great column found in All Africa today tells the story of a pottery cooperative in a little known area of Rwanda.

The writer, Irine Nambi begins the story by talking about a shopping trip to find pottery for her house. Having trouble finding any, she was told to head to Kacyiru where she found a cooperative of pottery makers.

In Nambi's story, she explains how much it improved the lives of the crafters.

The product of their labour was evident all around. The potters were organised in cooperatives and as I moved from one co-op to another, I could not help but marvel at the possibility of moulding clay into such beautiful products.

There is a wide range of products, including, household decoration items in the form of animals, flower vases, cooking pots and cooking stoves among others.

Everything was very good to look at, and the effort and dedication to this activity is unquestionable. I could not help but wonder what difference this engagement was making in the lives of these potters and their dependants.

"Ever since we decided to engage in this activity, life has never been the same. Initially many of us were very poor but today we earn monthly salaries," Jean Paul Rugemangabo, President of their cooperative said.

Salima Mukantwari, aged 44 and a mother of six is also a member of this cooperative and attests to the fact that this activity has changed her life completely.

"I would never have been able to meet the basic needs of life, if it was not for my skills in pottery. Today, my children are healthy and in school," she narrates.


He also advises that Rwandans can kick out poverty if they struggle to earn income out of what they are good at adding that, it is the only way everyone can contribute to the country's development.

Supporting organisations have also boosted these cooperatives. The Canadian Embassy for example funded the construction of their premises while the Ministry of Local government has supported them financially.

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