Here is Knight, ironing her placemat. We've become used to lighting the charcoal fire each morning, so that the irons can be filled first thing. Many women have never used an iron before, and we have never used this variety, so lots of learning is being done by all. Knight is a widow from Rubingo. She's 41 years old and has 5 children whom she has been raising on her own since 1993. She is involved in gardening and making mats. She's an active memberof the widows' group in her area. Her biggest concern at the moment is her eldest son, Isaac (18), who is too old to go on to secondary school and who would like to become a mechanic.
Tumushabe and Maudah were the first two to finish their sets of four placemats. Once their mats had passed inspection, I pinned them together and wrote their names in the book in which I am recording all completed projects and the amount they will be paid for each. There was great excitement the first time this happened - clapping and whooping and singing. And the demand that their photograph be taken. Now there are at least a dozen sets of these placemats packed into one of the totes we will be taking home with us - not all perfect, but pretty impressive for first time attempts. Today one group has moved on to making huts, which will be pieced together as wallhangings.
Others are still perfecting their mat-making skills, but no-one is giving up, and those who are farther ahead are helping out those who are having a little difficulty.