Solidarite’ is an association comprised of 375 women and men joined together by their commitment to fight HIV/AIDS and alleviate poverty in their community. Solidarite’ supports 340 orphans and vulnerable children and approximately 30% of Solidarite’ members are living with HIV/AIDS.
Working out of a small workshop in the outskirts of Kigali, Rwanda, the women of Solidarite’ come together to learn and practice the traditional crafts of sewing, weaving, beading and carving. Manos de Madres met the weavers of Solidarite’ in the winter of 2008 and were captivated by their passionate commitment to self-sufficiency. Solidarite’ receives no financial support from outside organizations and is sustained solely by the income generated from the sale of their crafts. With a limited domestic market and significant competition, the opportunity to export to the U.S. gave Solidarite’ its first avenue for significant income generation and growth. In the nine months after Manos began working with Solidarite’, the number of weavers increased by 50%, from 30 to 45 women.
In addition to importing their baskets, Manos de Manos has acted as an advocate for the weavers of Solidarite’, spearheading a campaign for them to receive national recognition for their craftsmanship in the form of the highly coveted “Certificate of Authenticity.” Manos de Madres has also funded the purchase and shipping of a large, semi-permanent “wedding” tent for Solidarite’. In addition to providing shelter for the weavers and other artisans, the entrepreneurial women of Solidarite’ rent it out for weddings and weekly church services. This has spurred the launch of an innovative business making wedding decorations.
Solidarite’, weaving hope for a brighter future.