8\26…Monday in Rwanda. We arrive at the school, Groupe Scolaire Kicukiro, an otherwise primary school with a now dedicated room for adults wanting to learn the craft of weaving as part of the CHABHA program. Melissa Johnson and I find the women and Oscar weaving at the looms. With new loom in tow, it only needed assembly, not an easy task but with Melissa’s expertise, the local craftspeople and the Rwandan music and singing that went along with the weaving… it happened!
The students have only been weaving since late July, when Melissa and her students from the Putney School made their first trip to Kigali.
Later Monday. Color is already laid on the warp beam. The students easily work together designing and hand making colorful scarves. While one student will select a range of colors and imagine a design, they often and instinctively collaborate to finish one piece.
The weaving project brought me to Rwanda, but once there, I met Claudine Uwamahoro, an administrator at the Gasabo School District in Kigali. Her story will move you — She is the sole genocide survivor of her family of 10.
Claudine generously took off from work that week and introduced me to intimate spaces in Rwanda — to schools, to churches, to the site where her family was killed. Below are snapshots of Claudine, wearing the purple dress, with Mary, the woman who hid her in her home and saved her life during the Rwandan Genocide.
October…The States. These connections, unanticipated, are reverberating. This week, The Putney School in Vermont is hosting Claudine on her first US trip where she will both teach and learn. Next week, at Suffolk County Community College on Long Island, she will share her story and discuss the legacy of genocide in the lives of Rwandans today.