Lydia, from Rubingo, is 35 years old, and a widow with three children, aged 16, 14 and 8. She earns most of her income from working in the gardens. When the crops are harvested, she sells what she doesn't need. She has also learned how to weave baskets. Lydia has an indomitable spirit, and the ability to laugh in almost any situation; even when a mistake is pointed out, and she has to remove some of her stitching and do it again. The determination she shows to "make good quality", is present in all the women, and their practice is yielding constantly improving results. Twice now, I have suggested to Alice that the four women who are struggling the most, be given an alternate project to work on. And each time she has told me "No, let them finish their mats". What would be discouraging to them, she tells me, is if I were to stop them in their efforts. But sometimes I yearn to give them something a little easier to do.
Here, Joy, our translator, is taking out the stitching on a placmat. Joan and I help with this too. You can see the practice 12" huts hanging on the mat at the back of our classroom, made by the 8 students who moved onto a new project on Monday. Once they perfected this, they moved on to making 8" huts and arranging these in a wallhanging. There is a loose plan to make the 12" blocks into a lap-sized quilt either for sale or as a fund-raiser. It has become clear to both Joan and I that this project is not a one-time affair, but is the beginning of an ongoing commitment to these women and others like them. We grow more and more attached to them, the more we work with them, and feel responsible for this thing we have started.