Macy’s is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Rwanda Path to Peace line of baskets and their partnership with Rwandan artisans. Rwanda was a country torn apart by genocide in 1994. Nearly one million men, women and children perished within three months in this tiny country no bigger than the state of Rhode Island. The Rwandan genocide resulted from the conscious choice of the elite to promote hatred and fear to keep itself in power. This small, privileged group first set the majority against the minority to counter a growing political opposition within Rwanda. Yet, it seems fitting to be celebrating the Rwanda Path to Peace anniversary during this season of thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, in the United States.
After the genocide, a few women came together and did what women in Rwanda do. They talked, they cried, and they wove baskets. There were women of both sides of the ethnic divide, practicing skills of weaving they all learned from their mothers and grandmothers. When Macy’s began carrying the baskets it was the first example of a major American retailers committing to a Trade-Not-Aid product line. Even though Rwanda is largely out of the news these days, Macy’s has kept that commitment alive.
The Rwanda Path to Peace baskets represent centuries of Rwandan culture. Celebrated by all sides of the ethnic divide, the baskets became the symbol that all Rwandans could embrace, becoming a vital tool that helped foster reconciliation among the Hutu and Tutsi tribes.
As a firm believer in trade-not-aid, I have collected several baskets from the Rwanda Path to Peace collection, which I use to decorate my home. They’re a constant reminder that my purchases give back to the people who need the income the most. Macy’s commitment has been one sustained over 10 years and is not the flash-in-the-pan organizations that go into countries promising help, yet doing very little.
This support has also included me adding pieces from Macy’s Heart of Haiti line, as well as pieces given to me by my dear friend Leticia purchased directly from the artisans on her trips to Haiti. They are unique talking points, which allow me to continue discussing these initiatives when asked about the pieces on display.
This holiday season, I’m using my baskets to display peppermints for guests; underneath the peppermints is a penny. When I was a little girl, the Little House books were my favorite. “Little House on the Prairie” contains one of my favorite Christmas scenes. “Laura and Mary never would have looked in their stockings again. The cups and the cakes and the candy were almost too much. They were too happy to speak. But Ma asked if they were sure the stockings were empty.” In the stockings was a shining, bright new penny for each of them. Can you imagine?
Doing this is a reminder of the simple things, to cherish them, that life is still lived that way, and conditions are much worse in other parts of the world. It’s an ego check and a reminder to never let my id take control.
About Macy’s Rwanda Path to Peace:
Macy’s Rwanda Path to Peace program brings the age-old art of Rwandan basket weaving to customers in the United States, with product available in select Macy’s stores and on Macys.com. The vibrant colorful baskets range from a classic 9-inch fruit bowls to a large 16-inch statement piece, with retail prices ranging from $30 to $60.
“As an early and dedicated advocate for this program, I am so proud of the decade of work we have been honored to do through our Rwanda Path to Peace project,” said Terry J. Lungdren, chairman and CEO of Macy’s, Inc. “Through this program, Hutu and Tutsi women, representing both sides of devastating genocide have come together to wave baskets of peace. From my first visit to Rwanda, my life was permanently change by the strength of the weavers I met – knowing what they have endured and all they have taught us about courage, forgiveness, and grace. I want to thank our customers for continuing to support this effort and for helping us make a difference in the world.”
For more information about Macy’s Rwanda Path to Peace visit macys.com/Rwanda.
Disclosure: I received a basket from Macy’s Rwanda Path to Peace.
Many thanks to TechSavvyMama for allowing me to use her photos. I’m reorganizing my photography studio and have everything in boxes.