In 1994, Rwanda was torn apart by a brutal and swift genocide—in roughly 100 days, close to one million Rwandan citizens were murdered. In the aftermath, the population of this small African nation was nearly 70% women. Faced with an uncertain future, these women turned to their past and reclaimed their unique heritage of weaving. Drawing strength from this common history and ancient art form, brave women from both sides of the conflict organized groups of weavers, in an effort to rebuild their communities and their lives... together.
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.
This partnership established a global market 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 over 2,500 weavers and impacting tens of thousands of lives. The 2006 Collection introduces several exciting new pieces to the Macy's customer, each one inspired by a traditional Rwandan design and entirely handmade by a master weaver using a centuries-old technique.
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 try my hardest to support as many charities as I can. I wish I could support more.
This is absolutely gorgeous. The basket is extremely sturdy, and comes with a loop in the back for hanging.