Joy Ndungutse and Janet Nkubana are Rwandan women who were born in a refugee camp in Uganda. In 2003 they started a business assisting women to manufacture their own goods and sell them internationally. They began with six women working under a tree. Their task was to weave baskets of a quality that would stand the scrutiny of the international market. The goal was that these women would work together: despite their differences, despite the trauma of genocide, despite the obstacles of ill health, new babies, poverty, widowhood, stress and despair.
From that small group, the cooperative called Gahaya Links (after Janet and Joy’s grandfather), has grown to over 3,000 women! In one week, an average woman can make a set of three bowls, or two small friendship baskets. If any items don’t pass inspection they are returned with advice on how to correct the problem, or the maker is advised to sell them in the local markets – the most difficult way to be paid.
These images are from Gahaya Links’ training facility in Kigali. The women are humble, with a great sense of pride and accomplishment. It was a pleasure watching them work, talking with their neighbors, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company.
All images copyright Adam Bacher. All rights reserved. Absolutely no use without prior authorization.