Last week we spent a day with an organization called Azizi Life. This is an awesome organization based out of Gitarama, Rwanda. They work with local artisans to export their crafts to places around the world in order to expand their market. They are starting a new tourism part of their business in order to bring more money into the communities and also to give people the opportunity to experience a day in the life of a Rwandan villager. If you want to know more about it you can go to their website: http://azizilife.com
We arrived in the village sometime in the morning and split off to two different households. They prepared us for our day of work by dressing us in the the traditional wrappings. They gave us a piece of material to go around our waist and then put a head wrap on us. We headed out to the fields. We cultivated a field and planted Irish Potatoes. This was a tough job for my non-calloused hands. I had two decent sized blisters after only about 10 minutes of digging. The sun was beating down on us and we were working up quite a sweat.
Then we went to cut grass for the cows. I was unaware that this was death grass. I reached in and just got right into it. After my arms started stinging and burning I thought I was going to die from an allergic reaction. Then I found out that it was just cuts from the sharp edges of the grass. We each gathered a bundle of grass, put it on our head (duh, it’s the African way) and walked back up to the home. I’m really starting to master this art of balancing things on my head and I totally see the benefits of it! Africans can carry anything and everything on their heads. I saw a man walking in the street with one boot on his head. Just one. Anyways, after feeding the cow we went to fetch water. Thankfully, the borehole (a type of well) was not too far away. We waited around for probably 30 minutes to fill all of our jerry cans. Then we put them on our heads and walked back to the home. This was much more difficult to carry than a bundle of grass, that’s for sure. I thought my head was going to explode or I was going to topple down the side of the mountain because of the weight of the water.
When we got back we had a lunch of beans, rice and sweet potato. It had only been a few hours and I was exhausted. I have always known that the women here are hard workers, or “husslers” as my friend James likes to say, but until that day I did not realize just how tough they were. I admire those women so much. I couldn’t do half of what they do. And they still are filled with God’s joy and love. Amazing. We spent the afternoon sitting on mats under the shade of a tree and learning how to weave. We each made our own rings, with the help of the ladies of course.
All in all, it was a day I will never forget. I got to get my hands dirty in the Rwandan soil and truly understand what the life of a African village woman looks like. Not only did I gain even more respect for these people, I have a whole new appreciation for the blessings I have been given.
Check out Azizi life online, it’s a great cause and their products are beautiful. There is a pretty good chance I will be selling some of their products when I return home, so let me know if you’re interested! Also, my blog is stingy and wants me to pay to upload a video so you can watch it here instead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIJCZ82zgVE&feature=related